November 28, 2020
Birthday party

Matthew's forest friend invited him to his birthday party, which makes this the first post-pandemic birthday party attended in person by any of our kids.


They were given a map with actions to do at each station, such as "count the cars on the mural at location B". I was interested to find out that the concrete bunker we saw before in the forest was actually a vegetable cold room. I certainly wouldn't have guessed that!


Once each child got to the final part of the map, they had to find a party favour hidden somewhere in the woods. Matthew's was pretty tricky to spot, buried deep in a fallen log. Then all the partygoers walked over to the birthday boy's house for a hot drink and he opened his presents. Matthew was not super keen on taking off his mask to drink, so he only took a couple of sips of his hot chocolate. Matthew was quite happy to bring home some cake, which he shared with Elizabeth later.


Matthew enjoyed getting to hold the leash of his friend's puppy. Matthew said that she was very strong and it was a bit like snow skiing if he didn't run along with the dog.


The other kids were jealous so Elizabeth organized a stuffy birthday party for Amelia and her own pets. I asked Elizabeth if she could be creative and have fun without having any food as we're trying to keep Amelia's sugar consumption down. So they had pretend cake and apparently a lovely time.

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November 27, 2020
Virtual School: Week 12

We had our first big snow this week. The kids were very excited to go sledding as the plow hadn't been by yet. Sadly the sidewalk plow came just as we were going out the driveway so I ended up running in front of the plow for the first block and then we gave up and went on the road. Elizabeth and Matthew amused themselves playing "sled dog". Amelia did her class outside again because there was no way she or Michael were going to come in.


It continued snowing during the day so we were able to actually go skiing down the sidewalk before lunch. Originally I was going to go to the SJAM or the Arboretum but Matthew really wanted to say he went skiing from our house and Elizabeth was worried about being back in time so we just skiied to the sledding hill and then did some sledding and skiing into the pond. We were slightly late coming back to class, to Elizabeth's great dismay. That did not stop her from lobbying to take Thursday off "as a PD day" when she discovered Matthew's new Thursday schedule is mostly outdoors. I told her that was fine and she decided to go to school. LOL.


At forest school Matthew and his friend built an enormous snow dragon and played distanced football. They apparently also looked at tracks in the snow and made ice sculptures. They had snow, ice and rain but that didn't stop Matthew from hugely enjoying himself. Forest school apparently doesn't count as school because it's too much fun. Matthew apparently is dreaming of becoming an engineer in order to go live on another planet.


In virtual school, Matthew's teachers assigned a mosaic art project. I say teachers plural because Matthew was given the same project twice. We just submitted the same art twice because he did not enjoy doing it enough to do it twice. In french class they are doing more reading. In math they are doing congruence of geometrical figures. Matthew: "Finally! Something new! It's still easy but at least it's new!"


Violin lessons continue, although certainly it is more challenging to do them remotely (especially for Matthew!). They are working on correct positioning, especially with holding the violin with your chin and not your arm.


Kindergarten stations this week: Puppets, tents, playmobile, obstacle course, puzzles, books. The theme given to the fairies was "farm animals" because Amelia's class is talking about the famous St Albert painted cows.


Reading in unusual places continued for Elizabeth. She very much enjoyed the last couple of books I brought home from the library, devouring several hundred pages in only two days. They've got a music project this week as well. She had to create a percussion instrument out of found materials and invent a rhythm. She says there was a note naming exercise as well but it was "ridiculously easy" and "not worth talking about". In gym they are doing some kind of group project where each group sets what the other kids have to do for physical exercise. Elizabeth's group is doing just dance routines, which apparently don't count as "real exercise" but "at least it's not boring".

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November 21, 2020
Karate progress evaluation

After much angst and back and forth karate seems to have come up with what sounds like a good plan for getting Matthew progressing again.  Their focus has been very much on the kids who are coming into the dojo and they've had a very hard time dealing with those who aren't.  Anyway long story short the plan is now to do small group sessions by belt level to assess progress and provide specific direction and instruction to move forward on a regular basis.  Matthew had his first session today and it ended up being a private session after the other person who was supposed to attend it failed to show up.

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November 20, 2020
International Children's Day

It was a short week because of a PD day, but we did some school anyway. Amelia and Matthew protested by putting on their very best clothes, to remind their parents that "today is a day for CHILDREN to play".


They didn't object to watching one last storyteller at the library though, and while I decided against formal lessons, we still covered my planned reading and math activities.

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November 19, 2020
Virtual School: Week 11

It was International Children's day this week, so both Matthew and Amelia's class had special days on Thursday. Matthew had a pj week and movie in the afternoon, while Amelia had a special party. All the kids had to decorate and come up with ideas for making the day special, like getting dressed up, making paper flowers and "serpentines". Michael was invited to participate as well.


It was a short week (PD day on Friday), coupled with party on Thursday, so I didn't really do much in the way of learning stations. Still, we had books, costumes for dressup, paint, and the giant house with kitchen stuff from a few weeks ago also was still getting a lot of play.


Amelia's class was learning about human rights all week. She is skeptical and a little disbelieving that children don't have a "right" to a car, but accurately identified education, play, food, water and shelter as basic rights.


It was colder this week but that did not stop Amelia from continuing to practice her new biking skills or Michael from scootering. There was also a ton of special stories at the library because it was storyteller's week, so Michael and Amelia (and sometimes Matthew) joined in for a special online story in both English and French every day.


One of the best parts of virtual school is the informal learning that takes place between siblings, such as Matthew reading books to his siblings (and trying to teach them how to read themselves!) or Elizabeth helping Matthew with his work (so that he can hurry up and log off to play with her!).


Matthew continues to have ample spare time, so the big news this week is that we agreed for him to start doing forest school with another family! They will spend two half days together outdoors and masked in Richlieu forest in Vanier. An excellent teacher is facilitating their learning. Our goal is mainly to have Matthew speak and hear a great deal more French than seems possible in school. We were very happy to find this opportunity to connect with another family and teacher who are both being extremely covid-wise. The teacher is in contact with someone vulnerable so asked to know how we are living. We are pretty careful and it's great to find a situation that isn't more risk than we want to take on.


Elizabeth had a special meet with kids from multiple virtual classes and one in person class in Montreal this week as a follow-up to the special galaxy nature art project they've been doing. Usually they need to leave the camera off when there are so many kids in the meet, but Elizabeth was one of four students in her class chosen to present. She was quite enthused that she got to keep it on. She continues to make a meal once a week and was happy to go to karate once again in person for her bo class. She's supposed to be doing her reading in "unusual" places and positions this month.

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