Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cooking, Writing, and Poker Face

I love walking into the kitchen to this...

Lu's becoming quite the little chef.

He's gotten into the habit 
of frying his toast in bacon fat. 
I guess I should just be grateful that he
doesn't eat sugary breakfast cereals like I used to.

It's nice to see him so independent in the kitchen. It's one of those skills that puts part of a mother's mind at ease - I know he can cook for himself - at least eggs, rice, and griddled vegetables.  

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On to the schooly stuff -

Lu's been reading a lot lately. Which is great.

He's reading about ecosystems and exotic animals,

Egypt's deities and ancient customs,

he's also reading
Farmer Boy, Shel Silverstein poems,
Aesop's fables, and a survival guide...

But he's still not writing much.

He'll write pages and pages when given a very straightforward assignment -  like writing a science report or a book summary, but he struggles with the more creative writing. 

In my attempts to get him to loosen up with it, I tried the following:
I picked four photos taken by Lu himself and put them on his blog. Then I asked him to give each photo a title, and write one sentence inspired by the photo.

Cool idea, right?
I was so proud of myself...
until, of course, we actually tried it.

Apparently, it's not such a cool idea.
And it takes a long time,
and a lot of frustration on Lu's part.

I thought he did great in the end,
and I loved this one especially -

Flor bella, tú me haces entender 
que no hay que estar acompañado para ser feliz. 
Translation - Flower
Beautiful flower, you help me understand
that I don't need to be accompanied to be happy.

Not bad, right? But more important than what his mother thinks of his first attempts at writing poetry is whether or not he's interested, and he didn't really seem to be. His face was all-telling. Far from enjoyable, it was almost painful.

And then I came across these beautiful and fun guided journal pages generously created and shared by Christie at Grace is Overrated. I wish I could remember and credit the other homeschool blogger who shared them (thanks for sharing - great link!). I gave them a quick look, copied down some of the writing ideas, made up a couple of my own, and created a journal page for Lu to fill in.

The pages are free and downloadable, and when Lu is a bit older, we'll print them out and use them as they are. But, I think (especially as English is his second language) that he might have a hard time understanding some of the prompts right now.

We did the first one last Friday, 
and Lu asked for another one yesterday, 
and another one today!

He loves them! 
They make him think 
about words and ideas, 
with really simple prompts.

His face lights up
as the ideas pop into his head,
almost effortlessly.

Yay for writing assignments that 
make happy faces!

So he's not writing a short story
or an autobiography...

... but he's writing.

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On another note -

 Grandma was here for a couple of weeks,
and they got to playing poker... with money!

That's right, my son and my mother gambling
on my kitchen table!

Apparently, he has a really good poker face :-/


  1. Poker, eh? :) JP and his friends play poker, but so far no money, and no betting at all really.

    I love the writing prompts and the creative pages you are using. I think those are completely appropriate for his age.

    I wouldn't worry so much about his creative writing abilities at this age. Instead, maybe focus on oral story telling. Instead of asking him to write sentences to go with pictures that he takes, find weird pictures online, or simple pictures of people doing seemingly ordinary things. Ask him to tell you orally what he sees. Then, ask him to tell you something additional that can't be seen in the picture. Say it's a picture of two people sitting on a park bench. First, he'd describe the picture to you as he sees it. Then, ask, "Suppose these two people just finished having a conversation. What do you think they were talking about?"

    That is how I began creative writing with JP. We did that once or twice weekly for six months or so without writing anything down. Then, *I* wrote down the things he told me to go with the pictures. Eventually, I gave him some blank journals that he could use for "anything". Sometimes he would draw, but eventually, he began writing down more imaginative stories, poems, and ideas. JP goes through spurts of tons of creative writing to none.

    For creative writing specifically focused on poetry, I also like the books "Rose, Where Did You Get That Red" and "Wishes, Lies and Dreams" by Kenneth Koch.

  2. Great ideas. Thanks Malea.
    He really does love story-telling, so I'll definitely try some of those. Although even the one about - what were the people talking about? - he'd probably be like: "How am I supposed to know?" Ha! Those literal minds.

  3. My response to that is, "That's the point...you don't know. So, you are going to make it up. If you could choose what they are saying, what would you choose?" :)

  4. What if he then said -
    "I don't know. What do YOU think they're saying?"

    (this one particularly drives me crazy)


    "Give me an idea."