Monday, September 19, 2011

Apropos of yesterday's post

I was rather amused that all of the children's television we watched today was pirate themed. Disney channel had a marathon of "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" and NickJr pulled out all of the pirate episodes of their shows they had. It's kind of amazing that thanks to the Internet, it's now possible to not only create your own silly holidays, but have them catch on to the point that major television networks are observing them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Plus: a touch spoilery list of character descriptions for the movie which gives some good plot information.

I'm getting pretty darn excited about the upcoming Muppet movie. I admit, I'm fairly easy when it comes to the Muppets, but even so, I've haven't felt the need to rewatch much of what they've made from about Muppets from Space on. There seemed to be a long dry period where studio executives knew that the Muppets were a great source of cash, but didn't know how to find the right people to milk it. But in the past couple years, they're really started to put out some good stuff, starting with the viral videos and now (while I hesitate to judge anything based on previews), the previews for the new movie look not just good, but spot-on, like the people who made it really get what made the Muppets great.

The answer, of course, is that they needed to find some Gen-Xers who grew up with the Muppets and truly loved them. And now (I hope) it seems we have what Jim Henson finally dreamed of: people who understand the heart and soul of the Muppets with the colossal Disney marketing machine behind it. Because say what you will about Disney, they know how to promote and distribute the hell out of a product. There has been no danger of any old Muppet material languishing in obscurity once Disney got their money-making hands on it. So: we now have a full dvd library of Muppets to show our children, and Disney Channel's incessant promotion has gotten K really excited about the upcoming movie, which makes me very happy, because I think it would kill me to have to get a babysitter to go see a children's movie.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First week

Week one of school has come and gone, leaving us mostly intact. Our workload is really light right now, and almost everything we're doing is review from last year, so the only real challenge has been to keep K interested. I've taken to doing things like telling her if she can pass the quiz at the end of the math lesson, she can skip the lesson. Because somehow it doesn't seem like a worthwhile use of either of our time to review counting to ten with a child who has been counting over a hundred for over a year. To my surprise, Science has gotten off to a poor start. Although perhaps not so surprising when you consider of all of the world of exciting, hands-on topics available in the universe of science education, they opted to start six-year-olds out with a rousing discussion of classification and the scientific method. Whoopee. I believe tomorrow we talk about safety. Be still my heart. Part of the reason things went poorly is that we started out last Tuesday watching a video from BrainPopJr (a website she loves), which, while it was on the scientific method, used magnets as the sample experiment to illustrate it. So she got really excited about magnets, only to have me open the textbook and attempt to interest her in talking about classifying animals, along with a discussion of the various things scientists do that made their jobs sound very dull indeed (Did you know scientists observe and record their findings? And communicate? Doesn't that sound like exactly what you were interested in when you were six? Yes! It's non-stop science excitement over here, I tell you). They sent us safety goggles, for crying out loud, so I'm taking that as a promise that science will start to get more hands-on and interesting. One very pleasant surprise has been how well FastForward, a set of reading computer games, has been going. It was a huge struggle to get K to do it last year. We finally wound up sitting with her the entire time, working the mouse for her and chivvying her endlessly. As a bribe, her teacher allowed us to let her skip one day a week, and we still struggled to finish the allotted amount every week. But now? She's doing it mostly on her own, with no complaint. To my great shock, she actually wants to do it every morning. There's one game we need to work the mouse on because it moves so quickly that even we have trouble responding quickly enough. And there are a couple games where I look over her shoulder and help talk her through some of the questions because I think she will learn more by my coaching her through finding the correct answer than getting the answer wrong on her own without any explanation as to why it was wrong. Plus, she's much more likely to stay interested if she's doing well, and I'm not about to mess with this sudden miracle turnaround in attitude. So one week down, going fairly well. Here's hoping for more of the same this week, hopefully trending in the more interesting and more challenging.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First day of school!

Tomorrow, school starts up again and we get back into a routine. I've been enjoying the reduced workload, but I think it will be good for us to have some more structure. Part of me wishes I were shoving K out the door tomorrow, but I have to admit I don't miss school mornings from last fall one tiny bit. Since we can't afford any daycare, we will be learning how to do school with Alec around full time. I'm hoping we can take heavy advantage of the fact that he is a rare sort of toddler that wants a morning nap. Looking at our current workload, we should be able to get everything done in a couple hours. Apparently we will add more stuff in later, but right now, we just have the basics - science, reading, 'rithmetic and fainting in coils (or Fast Forward, our nemesis from last year, a dreadfully tedious and slightly creepy reading computer game). And the stuff we add in will be things like music, art and phys ed, which will be much easier to do with a toddler around. Well, music and phys ed at least. The toddler's "help" with art projects is rarely appreciated by his sister. The school room is... useable, mostly. We will continue to chip away at the crap infesting our basement. It's much better than it was two months ago, at least.