geodes and chain reactions

Both kids got a gift today — somewhat ironically, for their excellent (and final, we assume) report cards . They each picked out a gift at the Scholastic book fair held in the school — Claudia choosing a geode kit, and Béla a LEGO “Chain Reactions” set, which creates some pretty cool dynamic little LEGO machines — perfect gifts for each of them.


They were completely in flow with these activities — something I never disturb — and having a great time. When Claudia broke her first geode in half, it was truly a wonderful moment and a sight to see.


This was my opportunity to get them started in what I feel will be not-quite bullet journaling, but keeping a notebook in which they can write rough drafts or notes throughout their day, to practice writing and recording experience. I figured we could use these rough drafts of “writing down the bones” to correct later, to practice spelling and construction, and possibly even transfer finished pieces of writing to the blog via typing.

I found unused composition books to use for “rough draft journals”, labelled them, and asked each kid to write something about their new activity. Béla asked me how many sentences it needed to be. I said, “as many as you need to say what you want to say.”

He wrote for longer than I expected, and then came to me with this:


He had not, when he first gave it to me, scribbled out the last sentence, the construction of which has become a family joke over the last few years. The kids have apparently been taught that every piece of writing concludes with the words “As you can see…” and then wraps up with a “conclusion” that makes things sound, well, kind of sanitized-positive. “As you can see I did many fun things this weekend,” Ben and Tuck and I will say expressionlessly to each other on a Sunday night, worn down to stubs from two days of errands and listening to the kids bickering.

I told Béla: first of all, writing DOES NOT need to end with a sentence that begins “As you can see…” And second, I pointed out, you just wrote that you were frustrated with this set. Why are you saying it’s cool in many ways? It may be, but you didn’t name any of them. It’s okay for it to be cool and frustrating at the same time.”

He looked very happy and went away to eradicate the last sentence. We will get back to it.

Claudia’s piece was funny. So poetic, and then starting to copy word for word off of a box or pamphlet that came with the set:


“When I rubbed my geodes together it was like a hurricane of sand… I had a crystal inside and a rocky outside of it and I was amazed.”

Back to these things tomorrow or Wednesday. Béla has some hurdles to clear with his Chain Reactions, but they are just the kind of thing he loves (I remember pulling him from preschool one day to take him to a Rube Goldberg machine contest up at Drexel, and we have gone to such competitions since). And Claude has a few more geodes to smash, I think.