Monday, March 12, 2012

The Pea House, the Plum Tree and More Fun Projects

Last autumn, Kiddo and I set out to build him a frame for a house, whatever sort of house he wanted to make it. I've learned that kids generally use their own creations more because of that sense of pride in ownership--their idea, brought to fruition. I did the grunt work he couldn't do, namely driving sticks and stakes into the ground and then lashing together a rather crude frame at the top to support a roof of whatever contrivance he chose. For the last month or so, there have been sticks across the top. It's been sweet to watch the juncos perch up there, so rustic. 

A couple of days ago we were outside, getting ready to plant peas. We had counted the seeds already indoors (101 in the packet, Territorial Seed Company's Oregon Sugar 2 Snow Peas, a dwarf variety) and figuring the 1" thinning distance, we measured out for about 108" across the grass. This gave Kiddo an idea of how long the line for planting needed to be. I'd planned on putting them all in a line, a gentle arc that would leave enough room for 'traffic' from the sandbox and just skirt the wooden twig house. Instead, Kiddo told me he wanted to use the peas for the walls of his house. What a great idea, and this was his project, so I just took orders. Together, we dug out the sod, removed the grass roots, and then mixed in some compost. Afterward, long lines of the white peas were carefully spaced and covered with a blanket of the rich soil.  It was a lot of fun; the peas are planted along the three most southern sides of his house, with a western wall added as a screen, to ensure it gets full sun as well. He's had a lot of fun watering it with his little can and digging a random hole near that area. 

He's also been climbing our now-dying plum tree. I've decided that since it's so low to the ground, if he falls off this tree in our yard, he's probably not going to be too horribly injured. It's a risk I'm willing to take. I need to let him fall sometimes, so that he'll understand things about climbing trees or putting himself in potentially riskier situations. He was a hoot up in that tree, I must say. He's testing his limits and it's nice to watch. I have to just stay back, turn my back from time to time and focus on the weeding and let him take some chances...

We're all excited about the prospect of taking a family vacation in a few weeks. We've already done the paper chain, and I've decided that letting him remove as many links as he wants is a great invitation to checking the wall calendar, counting the links, figuring if the numbers are equal and then counting how many we need to replace and doing that. Learning experience. We've also made another calendar for the wall with days of the week on it. He can put a sticker on that day at bedtime or at another regular time. 

All of this happens so fast--this craving of his to learn more, to master all this information. I see increasing frustration in some things, and I realize that if I want to encourage his writing, he's the kind of kid who needs someone to sit down with him and show him the way to do it.  Making a mental note to go to Learning Palace to get some lined writing paper (you know, with the ruled lines and dotted lines in the middle), I realized I need to show him where each letter goes. He's not a kid who is just happy to do it all over the place and intuitively; he wants to know how it is supposed to be. 

Ah, Maria Montessori,  methinks you built a whole educational philosophy on that last sentence. 

We're also going to make a cushion for his neat little Adirondack chair that our friend Mikel made for him. He has a quarter-yard panel of an orchestral instruments-themed print fabric I gave him at Christmas which we'll use  for the project. He can help with measuring, cutting the fabric on chalk lines--this is where a knee-pedal sewing machine has it's drawbacks, because he's too big to sew with me any more, due to the cabinet on my machine. Old 50's Singers have their drawbacks, but I've got all the cogs so I'm not too bad off. We finished a dinosaur pillow a bit ago, which was also a project for me as well. The seat cushion will be a nice 'thing to do' today (because now, it is Monday morning...hello Daylight Savings Time...yawn).


And my next project should be a cup of tea. I think Kiddo's next project is going to be making a 'slingshot' with those huge rubber bands one gets from the produce section and a box of multi-colored bread tabs which, like many a preschool teacher, I save compulsively. You never know what you can do with bread tabs, ha ha, although I expect I know what I'll be doing with them later on today--picking them up from all over the house! Ta ta...

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