The Wheels are Turning

After a busy weekend of skiing and birthday parties, I figured we’d start this week with some fun!

I came across the book Mr. Ferris and his wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis. A beautiful picture book on the invention and construction of the Ferris wheel. Many historic notes and a successful underdog story to inspire!

After we read the story together, the boys constructed a ferris wheel of their own!

After that they separated and Luke worked on his next level in Reading Eggs online and Liam worked in his math journal. (They both used to despise these subjects, but recently each of them found a way to enjoy them) so I actually got to walk away and watch the wheels of success finally turning for them! Luke is doing great with this reading program and Liam says he really loves this creative way of doing his math. Yay!


Reading in his fort!


Doodling in his Math Journal


Next, we all came back together to start a new class on Khan Academy called Pixar in a Box. The first session showed us the mathematical uses in animation simulation. They each took turns manipulating the hair on the girl from Brave, using segments and gravity.

The day was wrapped up with Liam playing his ukulele and then listening to a science fiction podcast- a story about a zombie apocalypse. Luke played a math app adding and subtracting with double digits, then continued working on his Minecraft project.

We all agreed, it was a good school day! Phew!

Lines and Polygons

What is a line? What are polygons? How are they related? – Those were some of today’s thoughts and investigations!

A polygon is a figure that is closed with straight lines, regular or irregular shaped.  A line is a straight one-dimensional figure having no thickness and extending infinitely in both directions.

I asked the boys to find a polygon in the room. One answer was the rug we were sitting on, the walls, the windows and the best I thought was- the groove in the marble on the fireplace!

So why is this important and worth spending a morning on? Well, for starters it’s the beginnings of geometry and geometric terminology.  Polygons and lines are used in everyday life- mapping out land, engineers use them, painters use them, gardeners use them! They are applicable in almost everything that we do that requires the planning of materials for a structure or of a space.


We read two great books about lines and then I handed them each a large piece of yarn for them to create their own images using a line.



tracing his finger along- bonus for pre -writing skills!


a bird shape


it’s a man!


making loops

Then we did a few activities in our Kaleidoscope math book. Using a mirror and the images of triangles, in the reflected images, regular polygons were seen! Polygons can have 3 sides up to 12 sides.

After viewing several of these – What would happen if our mirror included more than one central angle? A heptagon was now seen!


We then took a break and read some poetry together and then I worked with Luke while Liam worked in him fraction workbook.

Sticking with lines; we did a tactile activity. I asked him to make lower case letters using the wiki sticks as we read an alphabet book.


He then went on to make his own cross-bow with them afterwards- came out cool!


Line and polygon art-

They used wave lines and then filled in the waves using as many lines as they could think of.



Then Liam ended his morning with a coding lesson, learning about artist sequence. Look- it’s lines and polygons! 😉


Birds of North America- Art & Nature Science project today!

John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, artist and naturalist known for his studies, drawings and paintings of North American birds.

We have been studying his book, The Birds of America, which has over 400 reproductions in it.


After viewing many of the birds and listening to a biography of Audubon, we started an art project; transparency bird prints!

We used our own Birds of the Northeast book, chose a bird, using transparency sheets, lay it on top of the chosen bird, color with water-based markers and made prints on to white construction paper!

Supplies- bird book, markers, transparency sheets, damp sponge (not very wet at all or maker will bleed!) construction or printer paper

Here’s the steps and the prints:


Choose a photo of the bird and trace and color in with markers on the clear sheet-


Try blending as many colors together as possible, when you’re done- dampen the white sheet of paper and press down the transparency sheet (marker side down)


Carefully lift off and view your print! We did touch up a few areas with the marker to make the image sharper afterwards, but they came out beautifully!




African Adventures


African Elephant Chalk Drawing

This week we are exploring the animals of Africa as requested by my youngest.  We are reading and viewing a couple of animals a day to learn more about the animals and their behaviours and the geography of Africa.

Today the boys began their day setting up some new and old race tracks and did some video recordings of a car being chased by a boulder. They worked together for a few hours, getting new angles filmed and action scenes were reconstructed as ideas were thought of!

IMG_20150121_083116_963IMG_20150121_090339_228 This was an activity with no end! They are still at it 3 hours later!








IMG_20150121_084656_246After reading about Lions and Cheetahs today. We viewed some pictures of Ndebele house paintings. The people of southern Africa are famous for colorful, geometric designs painted on their houses. Traditionally they used homemade fingerpaints to decorate and believed this type of painting created a connection between the past, present and future.

Using card stock , permanent markers and pastels, the boys each designed their own painted houses! The book Amazing African projects seen here is a great resource!



Wildlife Refuge Walk/Photo Contest Prep

Beautiful morning for a shoreline hike, perfect temperature and clear skies! We headed out to a local National Wildlife Refuge and found an abundance of beauty everywhere we looked! The boys were on the look out for photo ops, they are interested in entering an amateur photo contest put on by our states refuges.

I handed my camera over to the boys and they found more than enough to take photos of! We were also able to spot some wildlife as well as beautiful flora and both boys were able to identify most of them, as well as some lovely landscapes.

liam 2 fav

Liam spotted this yellow finch and was so excited!

This is trip #1- they want to go again and take some more and then pick their final choices.  Feel free to leave a comment on your favorites! :)- Not all of these are entry possibilities, but figured we’d share them since it was so pretty there today!

refuge photos 010

Ocean view!

liam's fav

Crab enjoying his lobster dinner under the sea!

Birds on rocks

Birds on rocks

Golden Rod

Golden Rod


Yellow Finch on the branch

Yellow Finch on the branch

refuge photos 015

beautiful berries

beautiful berries

landscape lovely-ness!

landscape lovely-ness!

Monday Meandering

With yet another drizzly morning , we decided to do some indoor exercises to start our day instead of our morning walk. I suggested a dance party, they asked to do Yoga instead. So we did about 5 minutes and they declared they’d rather do the dance party 😉

Robotic Moves! Floor Spins!

Robotic Moves! Floor Spins!

We then sat together and read some Fables together for a half an hour, snacked then did some weaving with colored elastics and my knitting looms.

Luke's Design

Luke’s Design


Liam's Design

Liam’s Design

Luke took a break and headed to do some self guided play with his TMNT playhouse.


We then continued our study on mushroom with the Handbook of Nature Study. They each sketched the different types of mushrooms.

Luke's Sketches!

Luke’s Sketches!


Then Luke decided he wanted to take a nap!… and he wasn’t kidding 2 hours later he’s still out!

Liam and I went to relax on my bed while we read some more of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Next up was some math workbook pages- practicing roman numerals, fractions, graphing and perimeter review.

We then went into some art! Today was the start of our Form Drawing lesson block. We watched this video on Highlight Rendering and then had a mini session trying it out! He was very reluctant but I kept encouraging him and he was very pleased with the final look of it.



Microscope Invention- sunlight, mirrors and beautiful reflections!

Our Science Unit Block is currently the Invention of the Microscope and it’s uses. We began our study reading a few pages in our book titled, Inventions That Shaped the World ;The Microscope by Christine Peterson.

It took many generations and a lot of trial and error to build the first microscope! They first had to understand how light, vision and magnification worked together.  Philosophers such as Pythagoras looked for the source of light. Is is a particle or a piece of solid material or is it a kind of moving energy? Aristotle suggested light moves in waves, suggesting that light waves flow in straight lines until something blocks their path.

So, let’s have some fun experimenting with light and movement and colors!

We headed out to our porch, luckily there was a little area of sun shining on it! We set down several containers filled them with water and then added small round mirrors, just like a microscope. We figured this must have been part of an earlier trial by scientists, as they discovered how light reflecting on a mirror doesn’t exactly show you bacteria, cells and organisms, however before the microscope could be built, one would have to experiment with light and water movement/ distortion- all important information!


Our pans filled with water, and small mirrors.

Observed mirror and water reflection on the celing.

Observed mirror and water reflection on the ceiling.


What happens when we add distortion?

Now lets play with light and color!

Can you see the distortion more clearly and how the water settles back down?

(This was our favorite part! So pretty!!) The boys added food coloring to the water and made up their own combinations. One great observation we made was, that in the green pan only the mirror showed that the water was purple and the rest looked brown?! 😉 (wink, wink)

Let's add colors!

Let’s add colors!

Beautiful Blue!

Beautiful Blue!


Orange! Look at the rays!