my thoughts on a Persuasive Pandemic

I’ve been in the world of persuasion and debate a LONG time.

I debated in high school and college. I started traveling as a debate judge and coach in grad school as a part of my teaching assistantship. I continued traveling as full-time college faculty member, and was the faculty advisor for our intercollegiate debate association. I have taught public speaking on the collegiate level— which included large units on persuasive discourse. And I have continued to teach debate in my community to high schoolers while I educate my own children, and run a business from home.

Added up, that’s going on 20 years of experience— over half of my life.  And while there are people who have definitely done debate longer and have a more impressive persuasive CV, I don’t consider myself a stranger to things such as analyzing persuasive communication and wading through research and statistics to create a perspective.

The purpose of this post isn’t to convince you that our current situation is overhyped or not being presented as dire enough.  The purpose is to get you to consider the information that you are absorbing by asking it some pretty important questions before “accepting” information as evidence of what is true.

Before we continue, a word about truth.

At the risk of sounding “postmodern” (for those who view that scary), can we all agree that NO ONE knows what the truth really is in this situation— and maybe any situation?  The experts don’t know, the law makers don’t know, the press doesn’t know.  You and I definitely don’t know.  We don’t really know how the virus works, who it will affect, why some countries are hit super hard and others aren’t.  We don’t know how long it is going to stick around.  We don’t know how many people have it, how many don’t, how long it has really been here.  We don’t know how it will affect our economy long-term… or how it will affect our own little family units.  We don’t know.

We predict, project, and speculate.  And then predict, project, and speculate some more. 

And then we all act on those predictions, projections, and speculations— you.  Your family.  Your community.  Your country.

So, I’d say it’s pretty important that we hold the information we are using to gauge our actions to a pretty high test, since it affects our actions so significantly. 

“But the statistics!,” you might be saying. “Numbers don’t lie!,” you might argue.

Oh, if only THAT were true.

Anyone who has worked with numbers and heard statistics regularly knows that there is always another way to crunch the numbers.  There is always another valid statistic out there that can argue the opposite of the position that is “proven” by other numbers.  Once you really start realizing how fallible numbers and the interpretation of them can be, you really start questioning how anyone can prove anything. (It goes to show you that believing a certain statistic over another contradicting one is an act of faith versus one of logic in a lot of instances.  But that’s another post for another time.)

To paraphrase, lots of people have the pretense of knowledge— but we are lacking in actual wisdom.

With that, let’s me jump into some pretty important questions you should be asking to any post, article, news story, graph, chart, etc., that you are seeing right now.

  1. Who is telling me this information, and what do they profit by giving it to me? 
  2. Is the information being presented ethically?

The answers to these questions are telling, and should affect how much “space” you give these sources in your head and in your decision-making.

First, who is telling me this information and what do they profit?

This lesson is one of the first ones I teach when I start teaching my students how to find and use evidence. If the source you are drawing from profits from you believing their information— in power or money— you should take their data with a pretty big grain of salt.

Does this mean that they will be inaccurate and that the information is always false?  Not necessarily. But the more that they profit, the more you should question the accuracy.  The bigger the profit gain or loss, the bigger the incentive to coerce information to their perspective.  Ask yourself if other, less-biased sources have similar findings.  

Something to consider is that, in times of crisis, both the mainstream press and the political arena are good at profiting off of extremes— making something seem way worse or way better than it is.  Why?  Because extremes grab exposure.  Headlines never say, “Nothing to see here.”  There is both power and money in widespread capturing of people’s attention.  We have seen this time and time again.  

A question to ask would be, is this happening now?

Who are you getting the most of your information from?  How much of the information are they actually giving you?  Do they give you a few soundbites, and spend the rest of the time interpreting parts of the whole?  What is the purpose of their message?

What emotional, versus logical, response is it asking you to have?

That leads us to our second main question.

Is the information being presented ethically? 

Your follow up question might be, “how would I know?”  If the article is asking for an emotional response over a logical one I mentioned above, that is a pretty big giveaway.  

If a story, etc., is laced with emotionally-charged language, little red flags should be going off.  Unless it is labeled as an opinion piece or a human interest story, we should see be seeing denotative language over connotative.  

The source definitely should not be employing questionable propaganda tactics to lead their audience to a polarizing “us vs. them” conclusion by the end of their article.  

As a small tangent, let’s talk a second about propaganda.  Propaganda itself isn’t a bad thing.  It’s neutral.  You can use it for bad or for good— but it IS a PERSUASIVE tool, not an informative one.  Also, there are many types of propaganda, but two are universally seen as unethical, although many are neutral.  Those two questionable kinds are name calling and card stacking.  

Name calling is intentional use of offensive names or language to win an argument.  Card stacking is a purposeful manipulation of the audience perception of an issue by emphasizing one side and repressing another.  

Both of these can be outright or implied, but if they are in an article, you should definitely begin to question the legitimacy of the message they are asking you to accept.

How do we apply this in this situation?

Does a news source you are reading call— or even imply— that anyone that disagrees with it is absurd or immoral in some way? Are they purposefully repressing and disregarding anyone that might think differently?

I *know* I have seen these tactics from both sides over the past week or two.  People even suggest that society should open up soon, and they are cast as money-grubbers, willing to sacrifice the elderly on the alter of our economy.  On the opposite side, people who are advocating for shelter-in-place or more stringent social distancing are portrayed as weaklings who are willing to rip up our rights as Americans and gladly become a communist country.

I would like to say that my language in the above paragraph is exaggerated for dramatic effect, but I’ve basically read those very words recently. I have seen them implied WAY more— not just in the comment sections of people’s posts— but by people and entities that are supposed to be representing facts.  

Those sources cannot claim to be unbiased in their reporting while simultaneously using questionable propaganda techniques to help support their conclusions.  But they are.

What’s worse? These articles are being shared. And shared. And shared again.

There’s one more facet to this “ethics” question that I’m going to mention here.

Let’s go back to debate. 

While making and arguing cases and points, good debaters use a lot of evidence.  Some of it can get deep and honestly, hard to listen and process— which can be a problem when you are wanting a judge to understand your point at one listening.  So, debaters do this thing called “tagging evidence.”  Basically, it’s a one sentence summary of what the judge can expect to hear in the evidence coming up.  Think of it like the evidence’s thesis statement, if you will.

Now, here’s the thing.  Some debaters want the judge to believe something, but can’t quite find the data to prove exactly what they want the judge to believe.  So, they will mis-tag the evidence, with the hope that the judge will write down and accept the tag without actually analyzing the data in the evidence itself.  It’s definitely a no-no in debate, and the other side can call out the misidentification and call into question the ethos of the team using those tactics.

So why risk this credibility blow?

Because a lot of times, it isn’t caught by the opposing team or the judge.  The team gets away with it and might even win the round because of it.  

What is very frustrating to me is that I see this “mis-tagging” happening over and over and over in news articles.  The titles of the articles have this attention-grabbing “fact” in it… but when you click the article and read it?  You find the information in many articles don’t actually say what the title suggested it should.  You realize that the article includes disclaimers and details that neutralize the sensationalism that the headline suggests.  

We don’t realize that right now, we are in the middle of a huge debate round as well as pandemic. We are the judges, listening to evidence come at us in such uncomfortable speeds by people who want us to believe them, that we just remember the “tags,” and don’t have time to dive deep into the details of all the information being shared with us.  So, we use the tags to convince us, one way or the other, of which side to believe. 

And ultimately, which side to act on.

There’s so much more I actually want to say, but heavens.  This post is already a novel. 

We are living in a time where it is easy to grow fear— of the unknown or of a virus or of losing jobs and freedoms.  Our fear actually makes it harder to analyze what we are reading and hearing, but it is more important now than ever.

I’ll be honest. I’m tempted to fear. I don’t like it when experts contradict and stats aren’t consistent, and logic isn’t easy, and people resort to name calling and card stacking to get points across. 

I don’t like knowing the truth about everything that is happening, either.

But I keep coming back to some bigger truths that sooth my soul, even when nothing else makes sense.  My faith grows clearer when facts become more elusive.

I know that I’m not supposed to have a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.

Making sure that I’m reading and sharing things that are as factual, unbiased, and not needlessly creating fear is doing my part in having “a sound mind” in the middle of a restless world.

At the end of the day, I ultimately know that there is One who knows the truth about all of this.  About all of everything.  

And that belief in the midst of crazy provides the soundest mind of all.

Introducing Essential Speaking

For those of you who don’t know, prior to becoming a homeschool momma and having an at-home wellness business, I used to teach. You know… like, outside my house.

In fact, I still do. One day a week, I get the major blessing of teaching some pretty amazing homeschooled highschoolers speech and debate. They work hard, learn a lot, and go out and actually compete with their communication skills. I’m pretty proud of them. 🙂

Before that though, I taught communication courses in storytelling/performing and public speaking on the University level. I traveled as a debate coach and judge in colleges and universities from SC up to PA and through the midwest. I was the faculty advisor for our collegiate debate program. I was crazy busy, but it was so fun and rewarding.

Since then, I’ve exchanged road trips with college students for field trips with my own kids… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been asked so many times if I can tutor speech and debate, but I don’t want to spend my all day trying to arrange and remember tutoring slots.

Instead, I’ve come up with the idea of an online communication coaching “club” of sorts. There are lots of perks for a very reasonable price. Space is limited, however, because of me wanting to keep things in balance over here with my own kiddos and responsibilities/privileges.

If this resource seems like something you’d be interested in, read all about it by clicking here.

Fine Arts Fridays, Flies, and a Neat Resource

As the instagram post below mentions, my kiddos and I had fun this week reading the Vietnamese folktale, The Fly. It opened up a lot of fun conversations about how to be clever with words and use them in creative, problem-solving, even funny ways.

Language Arts is such a GREAT way to sneak in some of those Big Juicy Conversations that we love to have over here… but you know something else I love to use Language arts for?

As a springboard for Art… art.

Today, staying in theme of flies, we decided to draw them.

Now, we do have a separate, more “classical” art curriculum that we use and enjoy. It officially covers things like shape and light and balance.

But there’s a time and a place for all types of learning, right?

If you don’t already know about, please check out Art for Kids Hub on Youtube. My 7 year old, especially, could watch several of their videos and just draw her day away!

Now, their channel isn’t an art curriculum, per se. But there is definitely value in learning basic things like step-by-step instructions, watching how people make and do certain techniques, etc. It’s nice to see a demo and to be able to pause and rewind if they need to see something again. There’s also a more immediate “look at this!” pride that comes from doing these little videos and being able to draw something in just a few minutes.

Art Hub has SO many videos of all different types of things to draw (and even simpler ones for pre-school ages) that you can more than likely find a video to incorporate in whatever you are learning about. (Hello there, unit study activity!)

With easy resources just a click away, there’s no reason to not incorporate a drawing or two on a Friday.

Or any other day that ends in Y.

Nightschool… and how it works for us

Nightschool came about by accident.

An impromptu remedy.

We do a LOT of “together learning” over here, so one would think that all the kiddos would be okay with breaking up and rotating through some one-on-one time for individualized language arts and math. But no…

Anytime I just needed to work with my 7 year old for a few minutes, the 4 year old and 18 month old would interrupt 24,301 times… drawing our simple 15 minute individual lessons WAY TOO long. Frustration would grow, and it just wasn’t happy. So, I started saving those quick lessons for 7 o’clock at night– after the two youngers went to bed. Uninterrupted, we breeze through the lessons, especially since E is excited that she gets to stay up “late.”After we finish the “leftoevers” from the day, I let her choose something she wants to learn with me. Sometimes, something from our learning from the morning inspires it… sometimes, it’s just her and her amazingly random interests.

It is so fun, sitting together, looking through resources, using keywords on Google to find articles. Of course, YouTube comes in super handy, too. (Depending on what she is wants to look up, I’m a little more careful about videos. Sometimes innocent-looking videos suddenly can throw language or content in there that I don’t prefer for her at her age.)

Here’s a sample of how nightschool looks for us most nights.

I honestly love what we are starting here. I love the collaborative feel of the last hour together. I love being free from distractions and just concentrating on her– my oldest. I love learning beside her, and fanning the flame on her interests. I hope she learns a lesson that is more important than spices or mummification or cricket or whatever it is that strikes her fancy– that learning doesn’t stop at a certain age.

That life itself is learning.

We just need to take whatever tools we have at our fingertips…

And become our own teacher.

Super Simple Pumpkin Unit: another easy Halloween add-on!

Another simple halloween lesson, for those who want some #easyenchantment while reading, playing games, doing math, covering science, and a craft. It’s raining here, so our outdoor fun is a little limited today.

We read the Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston. If you don’t have the book, they have several youtube clips that have people reading it. Here’s one!

Then, we played The Vanishing Pumpkin by making a spoof off of Doggie Doggie Where’s Your Bone and Hide and Seek. One kiddo would sit in a chair, and another kiddo would get up, “snitch the pumpkin,” and hide it in the room.

Then we’d sing “Happy Halloween, Happy Halloween, you’re pumpkin’s been snitched./ Happy Halloween Halloween, was it me or a witch?” (Do your own thing here, cuz we just made it up and sang it to the tune of “Happy Halloween” from the Nightmare Before Christmas. Which incidentally, my kids have never seen, but are familiar with the tune, just by hearing it here and there.)

After that, we did some math by playing the “Roll a Pumpkin” game! We rolled two dice and followed the rules laid out by Happy Home Fairy’s post.

Our pumpkins definitely were… creative. 😀

We had to add the dice together to play the game, and since we have a preschooler and a first grader, it definitely counts as math for us. In fact, covering simple addition in a fun way? Yes, please.!

Still to do today:

1) a video that covers the anatomy, life cycle, picking, types of a pumpkin, and treats you can make with pumpkin…

AND…

2) painting pumpkins!

Happy Halloween! Enjoy enchantment today! 

Super simple skeleton unit: an easy Halloween add-on!

Want to sneak in some reading and science/anatomy, disguised as a Halloween unit?

Behold, our “halloween” themed impromptu morning time we did this morning!

We started by snuggling on the couch and reading Skeleton Hiccups.

If you have the book, awesome! If not, snag it from amazon (linked above), or here it is to read/watch at home.

After we read, we got up and danced “the skeleton dance.” The 1 year old boogied, the 4 and 6 year old giggled through it, and I’m counting it as exercise for the day. #winwin

After that, I pulled out an anatomy book, and we talked about how the

Then we pulled out an anatomy book, and talked about how the skeleton couldn’t have REALLY had hiccups, because muscles (specifically the diaphragm) controls hiccups. But… it’s a cool story anyway.

(Side note: LeapReader has a Human Body game that covers the skeletal system that would be fun to incorporate. We were going to, but our pen wasn’t charged… #cantthinkofeverything)

Then, we went over the real names of the bones on our skeleton picture in the book (vs. “hip bone and leg bone” like the song), and listened to this song to reinforce:

And finally, we finished off our impromptu lesson with the Scishow Kids show about our Super Skeleton! It’s chock full of neat information that older students could spring board off of, if you have upper elementary/middle school needing to flesh some ideas out more. 🙂

My almost 7 got a lot out of the video, but my 4 yr old was even fascinated. He lifted up his arms and went, “I didn’t know my bones made blood!!!” 

We had other things planned for math today, so we went ahead and did that, but you could easily add that to a skeleton unit by counting the vertebrae in the back, subtracting how many bones babies are born with by the amount of bones adults have, or check out this blogpost for several different skeleton math worksheets, etc.

Hope our little impromptu skeleton lesson this morning makes it easy for you to snag an idea or two that makes school on Halloween more fun for you!

My Fall Mother Culture Event Line-up!

I don’t know about you, but in the middle of doing the mom/wife/work/homeschool thing, it can be too easy to forget that we women need community and learning of our own.

It’s the whole “can’t pour from an empty cup” thing.

I’ve said this before, but before I learned about Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy, I came across her advocacy for “Mother Culture” and…

I. was. sold.

Because it can be hard to find something in the community to fit my schedule for me to come to, I’ve started making small events in my home for others to come and attend. As a result of this time, I find motivation I need to tie up cleaning loose ends around the house (ahem…), learn something new, feel the fulfillment of seeing a project/event “completed” (versus chores, etc., that never stop), and opening my home to both my friends and any friends that *they* have… which allows me to meet new people at the same time.

I’ve just spent some time plotting out the fall classes, and can’t wait to get started prepping for them.

If you are in the upstate SC area and happen to come across this blog post, please connect! RSVP to one of these events and come on over! I’d love to meet you!

For those of you who are interested in doing events like this for yourself and want some tips on how to get something like this started, shoot me an email or leave me a comment! I’d love to chat and walk you through the process! It really is easier the more you do it!

Without further adieu, my upcoming Mother-Culture-inspired Community events!


(Click on pics to read more details!)

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Consider yourself officially invited to our Beanie & Brunch event! Grab yourself some thick, soft yarn and come learn how easy it is to knit with a loom!

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Are you a fan all things fall, pumpkin, and latte? Me, too!

I’m planning a small paint, sip, and sniff event at my home, and would love to see some old friends… and make some new ones!

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Did you know that November 14th is National Pickle Day?

In preparation for this amazing new-to-most-of-us holiday, come join us to learn an amazing new pickle recipe, packed with fresh veggies, herbs, and even some essential oils!


Fellow momma teachers, do yourself a favor…

If going to or planning events isn’t your thing, no worries. But please DO something for YOU.

As you plan a lesson for your kiddos, or sign them up for some class or extracurricular, make a commitment to invest time– and even money?– in your own enrichment, too.

YOU are worth it!

A Teeny Pea, a Test, and a True Princess…

We are on week four of our Fairy Tale/Wonder Story Summer series! I’m loving getting to re-read the stories I grew up with. I’m noticing that some of the stories I know best are actually variations– not the originals. #learnsomethingneweveryday

Before we jump into the week, let’s see some Mother Culture!

MOTHER CULTURE
Some thing that I have missed since being in college/grad school/teaching college is learning alongside people my age/maturity level. Ha! I do work from home, and of course I teach– my own kiddos and a homeschool high school debate course during the academic year– but I really miss the peer component. Our community does have a lot to offer in regards to classes and ongoing interest education, and I definitely plan on doing more of that as my kids get older and don’t need me as much/as often (for things, like, for food. Literally. #nursingmom).

In the meantime, something that I like to do is to find a theme of something I want to learn/teach/make/do myself, and then open my home and do it with my friends (and their friends… it’s an open event for acquaintances!). My husband and I have done a night of culture, where we offered homemade kombucha flights in all flavors and I taught myself to make cheese and let people taste-test it. That was fun! I’ve also done a handlettering class, a succulent learning and potting event, etc. I firmly believe learning is essential, and that includes for us moms and adults!

I’m pretty passionate about natural living, and using things on my skin that aren’t full of junk. I also wanted to make a fun theme because my daughter really wanted to invite some of her little friends over to the event, too. So, I did a little research, got out my natural tools/supplies/ingredients, and made an mermaid make-and-take evening, concentrating on 3 summer pamper products– bath fizzies (like bath bombs, but in a powder for that you can sprinkle in a pool/tub), whipped body butter, and lip scrub. We made it in lots of colors, had fun jars for people to use and customize their products with, and put out some snacks for everyone to enjoy.

E and I even decorated with some original ocean-inspired chalkboards. Along with mermaids, she is kinda into those creepy deep sea fishes that look like something out of nightmares. You can see her drawing of a hatchet fish below. It is definitely cuter than the real thing.

Moms and daughters went around and made their items and then all the girls destroyed played in my daughter’s room while all the ladies talked life downstairs. It was a great night, and helped fill that adult conversation lack that every momma of littles has. I made a resource that has our event’s recipes in it and emailed it out to those who came. If you are interested in seeing what we did and want to try your own momma/daughter mermaid make and take, click here to get the recipes we used.

Note: the bath fizzies make for a super fun science lesson. #homeschoolbonus

On a completely unrelated note, a new subject I’m researching as a part of learning more about health and wellness as it relates to food is Intuitive Eating. There may or may not be a post on that at some point. 🙂

Alright, that’s mother culture for the week. Next stop: our wonder story!

DAY ONE
As with all of our Day One’s so far, we read the most original version of the fairy tale to get a “baseline” for the rest we will enjoy through the rest of the week.

It is Hans Christian Andersen that has the original Princess and the Pea story… and it’s actually pretty short and too the point. The last line made E balk a little bit. It reads:

“So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess; and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it. There, that is a true story.”

“Seriously?!” She asked, at the true story part.

In her defense, no other story declared itself to be true so far.

We were going to do an art project that day, but decided to take an impromptu trip to a local dairy farm instead. We saw the cows up close, and visited their little dairy and veggie storefront. Jbuddy really loved the cows and wanted to get up close and personal… which sparked an impromptu learning opportunity about what electricity is, how it is in some fences, and we shouldn’t touch them. #noERtripstoday

With fresh veggies, cheese, and milk in hand, we had a full day and the makings of dinner. We took the long way on the country roads back home, and honestly, it was delightful. I’m planning on returning and scheduling a farm tour when I can weave it in.

DAY TWO
In keeping with tradition, it was fairy tale variation day!

We actually couldn’t get our hands on very many books about the Pea story, so I looked up the books I wanted to get on YouTube and we “read” them together via watching them online. It isn’t ideal, as I love to read and work from a hard copy when we go over the story together, but if it can’t happen, this work-around is definitely better than nothing. We actually came across online versions to watch as well, and I particularly loved How It Should Have Ended’s version. More on that in a second… 😀

We read Princess Pigtoria and the Pea. We both loved the alliteration, the fact that the princess was a pig, and how <<spoiler>> she decided not to marry the prince because he was a jerk and a half… and instead, married a nice common pig and opened a pizza parlor. (Can you guess which letter was used for the alliteration? #prettyperceptible

The second variation was one produced by Cool School. E thought this one was the funniest one, and she actually borrowed one of the lines from their version to put in her own. The voice of the princess when she finally appeared just cracked me up!

The third story was fun, as the point of view of the tale was from the PEA, versus the normally 3rd person narrator. This story, called The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be, gave E and me an excellent opportunity to talk about point of view and how each person in a story–and in life– have their own way of looking at things.

Note: E did NOT like the mother’s eyes in this story. I have to admit; it is an odd choice for a children’s book. #nopeasforeyesplease

And last, but not least, is my favorite version, The How it Should Have Ended for Kids one. It didn’t escape me when I read the original version and most of the more common variations that the princess had to be tested for her purity and worth before being allowed to married the prince, but yet the worth of the prince to have HER wasn’t really questioned. Although I don’t want to get into feminist theory with my 6 year old– both the pros AND the cons– I don’t mind her learning sooner rather than later that stories/messages communicate more than what you might notice at first reading/hearing.

Overall, I felt like this week’s versions gave us a lot of things to think about, and I can see how they gave her ideas– and freedom– to get creative on her own version by the end of the week.

DAY THREE
Remember that craft we were supposed to do on day one? Yep, it made it’s appearance here. #betterlatethannever

What was nice about this activity is we practiced math with it as well. I asked her how many mattresses the original story used, and she answered twenty. So, she cut 20 “mattresses” out, and we used them to discuss and practice skip counting by 4s and 5s and did some adding and subtracting before gluing them onto our bed.

She drew the princess with “super crazy hair” because she was tossing and turning all night, “and everyone knows that you get crazy hair when that happens.” In the end, she made a little video explaining her art and narrating the story to me using her piece.

She likes math and crafts, so she enjoyed making something so large. It’s now a mural on her wall in her bedroom. Ha!

DAY FOUR
As always, our last day with our Weekly Wonder Story is spent creating our own. This time, we took Babykins with us on our momma/daughter writing date. E likes it when it is “all of us girls.” We hit Target first and did some father’s day shopping… and decided to get some dollar sunglasses from the dollar section. This is the first time Babykins has worn a bonnet and sunglasses (let alone star ones), and I just think she looks so incredibly cute! #biasedbutidontcare

Aaaaaand lucky us, our Target has a Starbucks, so we did our wonder writing right there. 🙂 I haven’t shared any of E’s actual wonder stories with you so far, but I will this week. All ideas are her own; I have not coached her in any way.


The Princess and the Pea – An Original “E” Wonder Story


Once upon a time, there was a Princess. The Princess wanted to get married. She really wanted to marry somene. So she looked up the princes near her. But the 1st prince was too short. The 2nd prince was too tall. The 3rd prince she looked up was too furry. She found a 4th prince and asked him, “do you like dogs or cats?” The prince replied, “I like hamsters.” She didn’t like that so she said, “Next!”

She talked to a 5th prince. And she said to him, “Do you like dogs or cats?” And the prince replied, “dogs!” She liked that. Then the princess said, “You’re the one!”

Then she whispered to herself, “if he’s really a prince, I should test him to be sure. I’m gonna have him sleep on lots of mattresses– like 100, because the castle is super tall. Then I’m gonna put a pea under all the mattresses. He will feel the pea if he’s a real prince.”

Then the cooker names Baileywick cooked a delicious dinner made of chicken and pasta. Then after all that chicken and all that pasta, the prince was tired and said, “Where’ my room?”

Then the princess sighed, “It’s in the guest room,” and she said, “Baileywick!” And Baileywick came right away.


And Baileywick showed the Prince right where the guest room was.


Then the prince said, “Ooooooooooooh. I’m really tired!” And he went to go to sleep right away. So he climbed a latter. Up up up he went!


Then the Princess said to herself again, “If he is definitely a prince, he will feel that pea!”


And the Princess got a dessert and it was called a smoothie.


The Prince feeled the pea.


Then the Princess went upstairs to her bedroom and fell fast asleep and woke up in the morning. She called Baileywick and Baileywick came right away and made breakfast.


The Princess had breakfast with the Prince. She realized that he didn’t sleep a wink so he must be a real prince. So they got married right away and lived happily ever after.


I must admit, I love how she switched the roles of the prince and the princess. As a sidenote: I’m not sure what she meant when the 3rd prince was too “furry” except she saw a man with a lot of body hair without a shirt on doing yard work in our neighborhood the other day and seemed kind of shocked. Ha!

And that about wraps up our week! Hope you enjoyed another week’s worth of ideas and links and seeing how our Wonder project is working for us!

Next up: The Ugly Duckling!

This week was all about the Bears… 3 of them!

Long hair story? Check! Amphibian tale? Check!

Onward to carnivorous woodland animals!

But first…

MOTHER CULTURE
This week wasn’t a normal week, in the fact that there was both a national holiday AND a play date in it… so I didn’t get as much time to listen to podcasts or read as I wanted. Mainly, I spent a few minutes here and there in the Flip to Fun-Schooling book. I found the “Emotion and Discovery” part interesting, as I feel it details why story is so incredibly good at teaching: a well-crafted tale both expresses and fosters feelings while plot surprises and characters teach truth. I like the following excerpt (and found it to overlap an idea that I also enjoyed from Bogart’s The Brave Learner):

“When a child is discovering new information, try to help them to learn in an emotional way so they will have a stronger memory of the information. Toss out learning materials that are lifeless and dull; they are not worth the time and investment. If you must use dull learning materials, play happy music in the background, add colors to the worksheets, and eat a yummy snack… The emotional stimulation will spark memory. If your child is bored and dreads school time, something is wrong with the method.” (Sarah Janisse Brown)

I also spent time this week creating, since I’m participating in a craft swap during the weekend. Sometimes Mother Culture isn’t just fulfilling your own need for knowledge, but also your need to invest in your interests and creative side, too. 🙂

Alright, Mother Culture done! Let’s move on to our week!

Like I mentioned before, this week was different because of our schedule, so we had 3 days of Three Bear fun instead of the four days like the other fairy tales so far. But hey, 3 bears… 3 days. It works.

DAY ONE
This day, we read the original Three Bears story– which doesn’t even have Goldilocks in it! Instead of a cute little girl with golden curls, we have a old hag. Fun fact: Goldilocks didn’t show up in the story until 12 years after the first published version of the story was printed. Also, the three bears are still very different in size as “a Little, Small, Wee Bear … a Middle-sized Bear … and a Great, Huge Bear,” but were not Mama, Papa, and Baby Bear. They were three (presumably male) bears with no known relation.

Something that E found humorous but also judged pretty harshly was the fact that the old woman cussed. Now, the story doesn’t come out and actually give any words… but when the woman broke into the bears’ home and ate a bite of cold porridge, she “said a bad word” at it’s temperature… and did the same when she got to the middle bowl. When she ate the smallest bowl of appropriately cooled porridge, she ate it, but then said a bad word anyway, because the bowl was too small and she wanted more. Just saying that the woman said a bad word (without saying an actual one) was shocking to E, and sealed the deal in her mind that the woman was bad– as if peeking in the windows and breaking in a house didn’t make her suspect already. Ha!

On day one, we also went ahead and had our movie time. The past couple of weeks we have used Disney’s versions for the cinema portion of our fairy tale week, but since there is no animated feature-length one, we decided on The Faerie Tale’s Theatre version.

I had perused it earlier in the week, and was resigned to the fact that E and Jbuddy was probably not going to find it as enthralling as a Disney movie, but I was soooo wrong. They both didn’t move for the almost 50 minute live version of this tale! So there you go! We found the whole thing on YouTube and Amazon. You can definitely tell it is an older flick, not just because of the fact it looks very VHS-ey (I just made that an adjective, I think), but because John Lithgow has brown hair!

DAY TWO
We did a little variation of what we have done in the weeks past. Instead of doing different country’s/culture’s versions, we pulled a few modern adaptations to read and get inspired by!

I’ll go in reverse-favorite order.

I used my Scribd account to pull up the most modern of the versions, Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks! In this version, Goldilocks and Sam (the baby bear) are friends, and social media takes a strong front seat as the reason why Goldilocks broke into the house. She was dared to do so by Red Riding Hood, and uses selfies as proof that she ate oatmeal, sat in chairs, etc. My 6 year old liked the friendship twist to this story, and I see the merit in the talking about point of view (as the story was told by Baby Bear), but overall, I thought the moral tone and the actual tone left much to be desired.

On to a much better version!

I found Somebody and the Three Blairs to be delightful! The human Blair family takes the place of the traditional bears, and a curious bear makes its way into *their* home instead.

The swaps are clever and E enjoyed seeing the bear try and figure out the human surroundings while staying consistent to the Three Bear structure.

If you don’t have the book but want to hear the story, there are several YouTube clips available to “read” it, including this one!

Last, but not least, is Mo Willem’s version Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. E LOVES Mo Willem’s books, and definitely enjoys his collection of easy readers with Elephant and Piggie. She can read them on her own, and loves the comic-booklike speech bubbles. She reads the books like a play, and does her own character voices, even if she hesitant to read other books independently right now.

Personally, I find Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs to be brilliant. The illustrations have several jokes woven throughout the scenes, and the narrator is so incredibly funny (we’d expect nothing less from Willem). The thing I love the most: the moral. It is stated at the end of the story, when Goldilocks realizes she is definitely NOT at a bear’s house, so she escapes out the back door.

“If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”

THAT.

THAT!

Isn’t that a moral that we want our kids to know and believe and live by? At six, at sixteen, at 26, at 66??? It is never too late to leave something that is wrong and run towards what you know is right. I love it!

Again, if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading it yourself, YouTube can help you out. This reading is great, because she actually points out some of the illustration gems.

I intended to do a Three Bears STEM/craft project on this day, but didn’t get around to it. If you want to, though, be my guest! I’d love to see the results in the comments! 🙂

DAY THREE
On this morning, Jbuddy wanted in on some Three Bears action and wanted something sensory… so I poured out some uncooked bear breakfast and gave him a scoop– after washing his hands, of course. 🙂 He loves being an excavator, and had a blast. Once he was done and moved on to another thing, E had to get in on the action.

We wrapped up the week with a Mommy/Daughter writing date. I wasn’t able to swing it last time, but was glad I was able to this week. We went and got a treat and drinks and played a game before doing the fun work of writing.

The game was actually to cement b/d identification, which she has down pretty well at this point. It’s an easy flash card-type game to do and is based off of memory. We had a stack of b’s and d’s, and then a bunch of cards with pictures on them, facedown. You turn up a card and the picture needs to begin with the same sound as the letter you have. If it doesn’t, you turn the card back over and remember it for when you have a different letter.

The game came from The Good and the Beautiful’s K LA book. I have two copies of the book the game came from: the beautiful one they sent, and the one I had printed off cheaply for her to do all the actual work in. The game’s cards would be MUCH better quality if I had cut them from the book that was sent, and not the cheap one, but it doesn’t matter. Note: if you are interested in The Good and the Beautiful’s LA curriculum, you can download it FOR FREE from levels 1-5, which is amazing! Even if you are looking for a strong supplement and don’t want to use the whole thing, you can’t argue with free!

After the game, we got down to writing. She decided that her name would be subbed for Goldilock’s… so I was a bit disappointed that the parents died by sentence 3. (Well then.) I have to give it to her… it definitely makes Goldilock’s a much more sympathetic character that way. The bears came home right after E ate the porridge, which caused her to bypass the chairs, drink Papa bear’s drink that was sitting on the stairs, before hiding in the bedroom upstairs.

Each week, there is a part of the story she is writing that I can’t help but almost laugh outloud at… that’s if I manage to keep it in. This week’s moment was when Papa Bear goes up the stiars by himself to check out the intruder situation, and realizes that someone has taken a drink out of his cup on the stair.

He gets angry and declares, “Somebody has been drinking my drink!” with such passion that Momma Bear comes and said (and a quote) “Come now! Take a deep breath, honey!” HA! (Note: if this were an accurate portrayal of real life, it would have been the Momma Bear’s drink that would have been drunk because mothersaren’tallowedtohavedrinkswithouteachchildtaking15sipsapiece. At least in my house.)

The story ends with Papa and Momma Bear carrying E to another person’s house that conveniently is her aunt. So E lives with her aunt and uncle and cousin and live happily ever after, the end.

You can see a pic of E being carried away from the Bear’s abode and eventually to her aunt’s…

So, even though we didn’t get all I wanted to done, it was still a great week! I have another awesome original E wonder story to add to my collection.

Next stop? Wonder week 4!