Nature Hike on Rome Point- John H. Chafee Nature Preserve

We set out early this morning to Rome Point in hopes of spotting some seals! No luck this time, we’ll try again in a few weeks to see if we can spot them. We did have fun and explored along the shoreline, looking at all the iced over rocks and shells. The boys were able to slide on their stomachs on the ice like seals! lol

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Hot Chocolate to finish the hike!

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Happy Days are here: Making note of Milestones!

With our new routine and plan under way, I’m seeing smoother days, more relaxed and engaged! The boys are loving the installation of the daily morning journals! Each morning I write a prompt on the white board and hang it on the fridge- they are always eager to see what it’s going to ask and keep saying how fun it is!

Luke’s been learning to read now that we’ve gone through all the letters, and has been practicing the “at” family and a couple of sight words. Today….-drum roll- he read two BOB books! I was very proud! He was not as impressed, he shrugged and said, “ya, but they’re just short books…” Good grief! I reminded him how far he’s come since this summer when he hardly knew all his letters yet! BE PROUD OF YOURSELF!!! You just turned 5!

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He also played a card game of word pairs with me and then made up a sequence story using the cards. The story: 0211151002Mrs. Boots put on her boots and got into her car. She drove over to her garden to check on it and headed over to the chickens to feed them and put the eggs in the basket. Then she went to the train station, got a ticket and took a train ride to the field of sheeps. Then she took a hot air balloon ride back home. The End.

He’s also doing fantastic with math, especially mental math! He can add or subtract easily and is just starting to multiply and divide using picture stories!

He started being able to swim underwater this week and is super creative in all areas!

Liam as I said wrote in his journal every day this week and today he also worked on writing a stanza in ABABCC order. He had to choose a mood (silly) and then create a poem using that order. Now, this is progress for him! He hated writing at the beginning of this year and now I hear no complaints and see a proud smile when he’s done! He’s started a Blog and it’s really helping him to be confident in spelling and story telling.ย  If you would’ve asked me 5 months ago what he likes to write, I would’ve said not much unless it’s related to video games! Very proud of his progress!!

0211151005 The other thing that has helped this year was discovering the Key to..Series for math. He’s completed 3 workbooks so far and is at the end of his decimals book now. Then it’s just a review of all concepts thus far and we’ll continue on from there. Today he added/ subtracted decimals to find length, width and the negative space where the window or doors are in the picture problem.

0211151020He’s loving his Spanish course as well, this week is relating words, comparing and distinguishing what words mean and how they are related in Latin, English, French and Spanish languages. He’s viewed A Tale of Two Princesses a few times to begin relating the origin of the Latin words heard in the story.

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Both boys are learning about Biology- today they read and played a game about the muscular system. They had to “poke” the muscles that were told to them! They thought it was hilarious ๐Ÿ˜‰

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They had to speed up the recognition time – started at 10 and ended up at 85! Great job!

We ended the day looking at more Birds of America by John James Audubon and now they are outside playing an ancient treasure game they made up!

Great milestones noted and Happy homeschools days are back in action! phew!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Optical Illusions & STEM

A focus on optical illusions! What’s more fun than tricking your own brain?! Add in some STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) projects and have fun learning!

We started off with viewing images and discovering the different types of illusions-Herman Grid, Afterimages, Ambiguous, paradox, distorting and fiction! View the video to see most of these types.

For a related art project, we created an optical effect of dark and light colors; the darker colors move towards you while the lighter colors move away.

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We also talked about frequencies of light and made our own Magic color spinners and created a rainbow in our kitchen with a glass full ofย  water and a flashlight, creating a prism effect.

What happens when you flash black and white colors before your eyes?!

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How about a Elephant Toothpaste? Let’s watch chemicals reacting towards each other, and why is the bottle hot?

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Want to try it?! Watch the video!

Next we made balloon rockets! All you need is rope or yarn, a cut piece of plastic straw and a balloon. Make some predictions and document changes needed along the way. Tie the rope up at each end, first slide your piece of straw on and then blow up your balloon and hold the end closed as you tape it onto your straw, let go and watch it zoom across the room!

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Next STEM- Makey Makey! You can buy the kit and use everyday items! So fun! We tried it out at the library!

Winter Boost!

This weekend I worked on giving our homeschool days a boost, change, overhaul..whatever you want to call it! The past few weeks we were all dragging our feet, just not feeling it (even with our new books, they helped but, eh)

So, I put together a new outline to finish out the year, same subjects as before but more organized! I also put together a new daily routine for us.

Today went more smoothly, more fun and felt more”put together” if you will.. we really are almost to the end of our year- we tend to do “school” Aug. 1 through May, so not much longer really, and I wanted this year to flow into next and so on as my oldest hits middle school. Let’s end the year on a high note and complete what we’ve been focusing on all year!

Our Focus:

PreK/K-

Through Easy Peasy all in one Homeschool: Learn To Read & Getting Ready 2,

Math: Picture Stories, First Grade Math Book

Music: Geography and Cultures

Art: Artist Study

Grade 5:

Math- Decimals and Fractions, Review of all concepts thus far, Getting Ready for Middle School Step 1

History: Ancients

Health: Nutrition and Swimming/Par Core Class

Language Arts 5 and Middle Grades Language Arts Book

Science: Biology

Spanish: 6th Level

Music: Geography and Cultures

Art: Artist Study

Computer: Start and Maintain Blog

Health: Nutrition/ Spin Class/Swimming

Daily School Routine:

Read Together

Luke- 1st Lesson (LTR)/ Liam -Journal Prompt

Liam 1st Lessons (L.A., M) Luke-Journal prompt

Break for 45 min- free play and snack

Lessons together- (Music, Health, Art)

Lunch

Luke 2nd Lesson (G.R. 2) Liam Math

Liam 2nd Lessons (H. Sc. & Sp.) Luke-Math

Outside/Games/Swim/Free time etc.

Monday- Music and Computer

Tuesday- Health

Wednesday- Artist Study

Thursday-Workbooks and Nature

Friday- Wrap up/Field Trip/Family Day

Today Luke reviewed his new “at” family words and played a “at” family game on Starfall. He then watched and listened to 5 new words being introduced for this week.

His Journal Prompt for today was – What do you like best about being a kid? A:”I like being small and fitting into small places! Like Cabinets!”

He played an Orchestra game learning about the woodwind section and had fun controlling the pitch and seeing each instrument play!

We also did Art today, due to a field trip later this week, I moved things around. We are studying John James Audubon this month.ย  Today we all viewed his American Robin piece and discussed how his art pieces were to educate others. I asked each of them- What would you do as an artist to educate others?

Liam said he would draw pictures of sea animals and the pollution problem- referring back to our recent trip to the aquarium and the “trash models” they had on display.

Seal made from trash found in the ocean

Seal made from trash found in the ocean

Luke said his would be about Ice Cream and how the different flavors are made, and how you don’t want the ice cream to fall off onto your foot!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

We have many bird reference books, so each looked through and found a bird of choice to draw!

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“Snowy Owl outside the Audubon Door”

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“A Turkey that is a Male”

Liam started with reading a stanza excerpt and copying it down.

His Journal prompt for today was- If you could invite someone famous over for dinner who would it be and why?

Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons, because he makes awesome music! He’s my favorite person in the band.

Math was figuring our word problems- not so much fun ๐Ÿ˜‰

Music he learned about the Violin and “playing it” using the mouse and keyboard! Observing the notes and sounds as well as creating his own song.

Spanish looking at Latin words and related words. He watched a short video that had Latin words throughout the story and tomorrow he will write them down and figure out what he thinks they mean, by relating them to English words that sound similar!

The never ending Math battle!

Math…..Why is it such a challenge?!

So far this year our choice in math curriculum is going fairly well, The Key to.. series is working out very well for my oldest. He’s enjoying it and it works like a unit study, one topic at a time in depth. However, after being part of aย  threaded conversation yesterday, I got to thinking (dangerous, I know) many comments were all about going back to the basics when you see your student starting to struggle.ย  BTW, it seems MATH is disrupting the harmony in many homes!! Though I don’t see a struggle on his current topic of decimals, I got to thinking – how sound are his basics? how much has he retained on topics we haven’t visited in a while? This was quickly answered when I showed him a few flashbacks and asked if he remembered doing these types of problems. *crickets*

Okay, just as I feared, let’s pause for the next month and do a month of reviews! And, honestly I think I may start doing this every 3 months or so- just a month to review and retain what we know so far.ย  It’s easy to just move on and follow a curriculum, excited to keep learning new things, but let’s not forget the past! I’m thinking each year I may be putting a review unit into our rotation: Feb., May, Aug., Nov.

Both boys have workbooks, they also work on math concepts on KhanAcademy.org and I try to incorporate manipulatives and games as well.

My plan for the next month is to set up a weekly review schedule on each topic, something like this:

Oldest (5th)- Monday: Multiplication and Graphing, Tuesday: Division and Area/Perimeter Wednesday: Measurements and Rounding Thursday: Fractions

Youngest(prek/k)-Monday: Graphing, Adding/Subtracting Tuesday: Picture Multiplying and Dividing Wednesday: Numberline work and number stories Thursday: Counting to 50

 

The Mystery of Chocolate!

This morning we were up and ready to go on a Chocolate Factory tour with our local homeschool group we just recently became members of. Before heading out I asked the kids if they knew where chocolate came from, and how the process works.

 

They were pretty much familiar with it all, but I had them view this video anyway and I’m glad I did as it turned out- even though we were going as a group, it was self-guided. It was a small room off of the shop that had examples and some machinery to look at and the process from the bean to the bar along the wall to read as we walked up the ramp to the viewing area of the factory. (Not what any of us were picturing) we were thinking a walk through the factory, but it was fun just as well. And, free samples to taste- no complaints! They had many flavors I had never heard of, we took some more home to try- we will be going back to try more soon!

The Hauser Chocolatier

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Having a good backbone, makes life easier!

This past weekend I headed over to a local book store to browse the “school” area. To my delight it had expanded significantly from my last visit. I found some great keepers!! I’ve been looking for books in each subject we can all do together, meaning books or curriculum that can be used for any age or at least a wide range. I want to be able to have a great backbone and work off of it with both boys, just making their work a bit different so each is challenged in their own way. After this morning I’m pretty sure we have a good backbone in a few subjects now, and yes, it made my life so much easier!To grab the books and enjoy going through them in a chronological order is just what I’ve been looking for all year- yes, since September! Ugh, better late than never ๐Ÿ˜‰

I found: (all for $12.00!) a prek-1 Reading Workbook (Giant Basic Skills) Spell Well! Scholastic grades4-8, -it’s all interactive 50 activities to help with spelling, The Kids’ Nature Book 365 , Animals of the World– 7 in depth chapters broken into specific categories, 2 Harcourt Language Arts Program books, and Kaleidoscope Math– Geometry, Polygons and Prisms, Space Figures in Kaleidoscopes and Infinity Boxes.

We had a blizzard yesterday, so we took it easy and I looked through the books and was eager to get started using them in our curriculum. I found a great Science and Nature book/guide that flows through each month and day, filled with lots of seasonal ideas and activities. The book luckily enough starts off in January, and two things I’ve been wanting to do with the kids was in this weeks activities in the book! Yay!

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Like I said we had a blizzard yesterday, so the first was easy!— Snow cream to drink. We scooped up some snow, added sugar to taste and a bit of vanilla extract and cream! Delicious!IMG_20150128_091003_760

The second project was to make our own icicles. We needed two containers and had to poke a small hole in the bottom, so the water comes out at a slow drip, we then added colored water (our added idea) and gathered some string to “catch” the drips. We headed outside and used our grill to place the bottles on and then tied the string under them and used the snow to hold the string still for us. We left it for about a half hour and then came back to this! Also, lesson learned- one used hot water, one used cold water and it ended up freezing up and not making as big an icicle!

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So pretty!

We then read many books together from the library and then we read from the Hidden Surprises LA Harcourt book called Wild Shots, They’re My Life it was a photo Essay and Science story about a women who takes photographs of animals for a living.ย  We are also taking about African animals and Mammals this week, so it was a great tie in with that. The focus skill was Story Elements. After each story is a Response Activities section. My youngest Made a chart listing Furry, Feathered and Scaly animals. My oldest created interview questions he would ask if he were reporting on her, and then made up some answers.

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We did some Geography and Art then finished up with Math. They did a workbook page and then we tried out our new Kaleidoscope book. Today was the intro. and it focused on Geometry of Mirrors, and holding the mirror perpendicular to the page. How lines are reflected in a mirror and in creating symmetry. It was very fun!

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Having a good backbone, makes life easier! I’ve been piecing together subjects and activities for so longย  and feeling like we’re skipping around all the time, I can’t tell you how excited I am to have these new books and it seems to have agreed with the kids too!

We ended on a good note and went sledding this afternoon at the town park.

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Winter Nature Walk

Today was one of those days where sitting and concentrating was NOT going to happen! They had a lot of energy and after trying a few planned lessons and threw my hands up and said- get your snow gear we are going out for a walk!

We headed out just as the snowflakes started falling! It was so pretty and the boys were able to catch as see the geometric shapes in the snowflakes as they landed. They were so excited, it was the perfect kind of snow for a hike.

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We headed out and just went down the street to a place called Barn Island. We walked through the marshes and saw some birds and continued catching snowflakes. It didn’t take long for the boys to find the ice under the snow patches and begin to explore!

They tried to break it, slide on it, dance on it, and observed how the water moved underneath and the ice and how they could eventually use the broken ice pieces as a tool to break the rest of the ice! They had a blast and discovered quite a bit about the ice and observed changes from when we were there in the fall.

They got more out of their day here than at the kitchen table for sure!!

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Catching Flakes!

Catching Flakes!

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"look how it cracks!"

“look how it cracks!”

Ice Dancing!!

Ice Dancing!!

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“Look at this one! It’s overflowing and coming out on top!”

Digging in with "ice picks"

Digging in with “ice picks”

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African Adventures

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African Elephant Chalk Drawing

This week we are exploring the animals of Africa as requested by my youngest.ย  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!

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Creating Creative Thinkers

It’s been awhile since I have made an entry on our homeschooling days, mostly because I wanted my focus to be in the moment and not behind the camera and due to the fact that our computer was temperamental for a while!
Anyway, when I started this year of schooling my goal was to get some creativity going! I started to read a lot about Waldorf and was drawn to the creative side of this method. I love having a MLB- main lesson book, where the children draw out images from the main lesson being taught at the time. I directed this for a while to get the habit and thoughts rolling, and this week it finally took off and the boys asked me, yup, they asked me to draw from the story we are reading, which is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

I went out and got them each a daily journal to write in or doodle in each afternoon as we close out the “school” day, they have embraced it and I’m mostly implementing this because I want them to be free thinking, creative, and most importantly seeing and observing from their entries and illustrations what they are internalizing and taking away from each lesson personally. Fingers crossed this is our new path and it will continue to grow from here. I also love that they are naturally incorporating writing, spelling, math and fine motor development as well as critical thinking skills!
Here are some documentations they made this week:
IMG_20150108_095717_354In chapter 3 and 4 Milo, the main character visits Dictionopolis and ends up in a word marketplace, where one can buy words or letters that are for sale.

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My oldest loves Tock, the dog and created a drawing of the character from the cover of the book.

IMG_20150113_142511We are also studying Ancient Greece this week and did a Waldorf inspired watercolor painting, First we drew pencil lines for a guide in creating the depth and then worked counter clock wise adding in the rainbow of colors only using primary colors and let/used the water “mingle” and blend and create the secondary and tertiary colors.

Journal entries after watching a Minecraft video set in an Ancient Greece mod on Youtube. They each wrote the three minecraft tools they like the most and why.

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Map of Ancient Greece and an animal drawn using detail by my youngest ๐Ÿ˜‰

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