We finished kindergarten on a Sunday this year with one last field trip: a celebratory family outing to the zoo, complete with a commemorative smashed penny. The machine we visited offered a selection of four pictures for your penny-smashing pleasure. Audrey chose a dolphin. Jason set the levers to point to "dolphin" and Audrey wound the gears. Her flattened penny clanked into the dispenser. She pulled it out to admire the machine's handiwork and found herself face-to-face with a walrus. I found a new penny. Jason put it, with fifty cents, into the dispenser. He set the dials. Audrey cranked the machine. Her penny clanked. It was a walrus. It just goes to show you: sometimes, you think you're going after a dolphin, but you end up in possession of a walrus. Kindergarten: it's not all about reading and arithmetic.
Here are a few other things kindergarten was about this year (or at least, a few of our most memorable moments):
When I asked Audrey what her favorite thing about homeschool was this year, she said, "I like trying to impress you with my handwriting. I like trying to make you proud." She succeeded in her endeavor, but when I look back to what she enjoyed most about school I'm reminded of introducing her to archaeology. We studied Ancient History this year and began the year with a discussion of why we know what we do about history. We attended a homeschool class led by an archaeologist at The Children's Museum. Then, we conducted a little "archaeological dig" of our own - in our backyard.
We spent the first half of the year studying animals for Science. One of our favorite weeks was spent studying bats (including experiments on sonar, a toothpick-and-construction paper diagram of a bat, and bat crafts). The picture above shows Audrey building a bat box at a local Parks and Rec event that week.
The picture above was taken at Ruby Falls. Two things: 1) This field trip really didn't have much to do with what we studied in kindergarten, since we'll cover Earth Science next year. 2) It's highly likely that this field trip will stay fresher in my mind than Audrey's, as I will always remember it as the day Jason grabbed Nathan before he finished scaling the railings of a lookout point atop a cliff. When I look at that picture, I see a lightening bolt and my heart begins those tap dancing palpitations that signal cardiac arrest could be in my future. 3) Not all the things you learn in kindergarten are fun facts, such as bats can eat up to 600 mosquitoes an hour. Some are more terrifying and practical in nature, like learning first-hand why Eddie Bauer makes monkey-themed leashes for children. 4) Sometimes, your teacher tells you she's going to teach you two things. Then she sneaks in two extras. (P.s. Audrey loved the field trip. She spent the tour at the front of the line, holding hands with the geologist and asking her questions. The rest of us heard several laughs from up front waft to the middle of the pack where we walked. Later, our tour guide informed us that Audrey was assisting her in keeping things light by adding helpful comments like, "I'm glad I'm not as big as some of the people down here" when we had to squeeze through a section of the cave dubbed "Weight Watcher's Pass.")
We happened to be visiting dear friends in Jacksonville a week after studying alligators and crocodiles, so our families loaded all the kids into two cars and headed to St. Augustine Alligator Farm. We watched the largest alligator at the farm get its afternoon snack of rats. It was a lesson in the food chain, and that high jumpers can come in unlikely packages.
We're technically in our third week of summer. We've settled on a rare day of summer in which our first event on the family calendar takes place at 6 pm. Audrey has spent her morning in the center of a pool of library books, wearing a pair of flowered pajama pants that look like capri pants. The legs hung to her ankles last year. She's stretching out - in every possible way. I don't know what she'll take with her from our kindergarten year. She learned to read and perform simple addition and subtraction. She read about Sumerians and Egyptians and Phoenicians. We attended Parks and Rec programs on Squirrels, Beavers, and Foxes. We performed experiments in the bathtub. We caught a children's opera and a performance of The Nutcracker. We forgot what a clean house looks like and remembered what it felt like to take our history book out to the hammock and spend a day lost at the library. We stretched. We grew. We forgot our manners sometimes. She helped me, and I helped her, get a little closer to who we were intended to be. Kindergarten: 2012-2013.