# Wandering in the Woods!

After doing our normal routine this morning; journals, reading and Liam working on his research paper, Luke and I browsing through his new Pathway Readers and did some Polar bear Unit work, I couldn’t wait to get outside!! It was over 40 degrees and sunny! Spring Fever!!!! Get me outside!

We headed over to our local Refuge in Charlestown and hit the trails. The sun felt great, there is still a lot of snow but the trail was pretty packed down.  It felt great to be outside and not freezing. I warned the boys that if they were somewhat quiet today we’d probably be lucky to see some wildlife.

The trail was only a mile round trip so, on our way back the boys took off their coats and laid back basking in the sun and listening to the birds. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by a bunch of black- capped chickadees and saw two different woodpeckers working, and a tuft titmouse who was busy flying from branch to branch. They were in awe and loved every minute of it.

I think we all just laid there on our coats for about an half an hour just observing and listening. They met a snowman along the way and played various games, marvelled at how soft the birch trees were and kept repeating we need to do this more often and when are we coming back?! (I always have to drag them out for hikes, then they have a blast)

We noticed trees are budding!!

Quick photo op of the black -capped chickadee

Found a snowman friend along the trail. Boys added a nose and Luke checked on him and said good-bye

# I understand this song- Right Brain learning!

What a morning filled with beautiful bird songs(Bird Biology) and a super math suprise gem(Right Brain Math)!

Learning and memorizing multiplication facts has been an ongoing struggle or perhaps a topic of boredom for my oldest. He would rather do fractions and decimals or measurements and graphs- Ahh, all of these are much more “visual” concepts… Now I’m starting to see why this topic was a broken record!

In researching yet another way to get him to memorize and get these down pat in a flash, I discovered:

# MisterNumbers Pattern Play Math

A visual and structural approach to multiplication for Right Brained learners! I watched a couple of his videos and thought, WOW! this is so awseome. I signed up for the 3 free worksheets and had him watch the videos and do the sheets along with the video. He looked over at me half way through the video wide-eyed and said- this guy is a genius!

This is what one of the worksheets looks like, but if you’re at all interested watch the video to see the patterns of 3,6,9 times and the 7’s. It’s a simple tic, tac, toe pattern that incorporates all three tables.

We’ll be purchasing the workbook, it’s not expensive at all! Pattern Play Math-…… You’re playing our song!

Speaking of Songs; Bird Biology was the other highlight of our day! We headed over to The CornellLab of Orinthology to learn all about Birdsong! This was an interactive lesson with 7 steps.

What is a Songbird?

Songbirds learn too

Their reperetoires include songs and calls

Songbirds have local dialects

Songbirds are vocal gymnasts

They sing at dawn

Some sing two notes at once

Birds sing to defend and impress

Here a bird singing? It’s probably a male

After reading through these facts and hearing the Songbirds, we then played Songbirds in action and trained for Bird Song Hero!

Double sided voice box

Listen and match the visual

Then before heading outside we did a little watercolor fun art with singing birds!

Luke’s -Titled “The Bell Song”

# Web of Life- Our Homeschool Class today

We headed out to our National Wildlife Refuge for our homeschool program this morning. The topic was called Web of Life an ecology lesson on how everything is connected to each other and is dependent upon one another!

In short, the class topics: (it was a 2 hour class)

The Ranger started with asking the children to color various animals and plants he handed out and then to gather in a circle with their cards.

The sun card went in the middle of the circle, then each child who had a plant went next as they are directly effected by the sun, (string was given to child from sun to plant) then they were to yell out if they had a plant eater,then an animal that would eat the plant eater and so on, as they built and connected the string- it was the visual connection, building the Web of Life!

The Ranger then showed various skulls, taking a close look at the placement of the eyes. Giving the rhyme of “Eyes to the side, like to hide” -( prey ) it gives them a wider field of vision to see predators. They need to be able to see forewards, sidewards, backwards and upwards incase a predator attacks.

The children then observed the three ducks, the names of each- The Golden Eye, The Wood Duck and the Merganser.  Then had a lengthy discussion on the shapes and sizes of the bills and why they are built in such a way, especially the Merganser who has a saw like teeth for catching his prey.

After the classroom session was done we headed out to watch the frogs being fed and did a scavenger hunt in the visitor center. They had a blast, learned a lot and can’t wait for the next classes! Liam loved it so much and walked over to the Ranger and shook his hand, thanked him for such a great time! Before, leaving Luke brought his money and wanted to buy a bird he saw last time. He was so excited and built him a nest to live in once we got home.

Once home each of them did some math on Khan Academy- Luke earned “Geek of the Week” , High Five in Math and Making Progress badges. Liam earned Finger or Toes in Math, Five is Alive and Challenge Accepted! badges;)

One more STEM class this afternoon at the library to go!

# 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!

He also played a card game of word pairs with me and then made up a sequence story using the cards. The story: Mrs. 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.  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!!

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.

He’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.

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 😉

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!! 😉

# 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

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:

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.  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

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!! 😉

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

“Snowy Owl outside the Audubon Door”

“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 😉

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!

# Are we flying or on the ground?

This week one studied Owls and Bats, while the other continued with Botany, studying the evolution of the plant kingdom. Owlets and  pups, nocturnal creatures. Mushrooms to the Fern Family, the earliest plant forms of creation. We were either flying up in the air on deep down in the dirt this week studying the babies of both worlds!

We were lucky with some great library books as Luke discovered the similarities and differences in Owls and Bats. How do they move? What do they eat? What is a predator? Myths and facts about bats. How do these animals see if they are nocturnal? Why are they important to our environment?

Over in the Hollow was a great counting story and he worked on measuring bat wings as another math activity!

10 inch wing span!

He drew a sketch of a bat’s anatomy and worked on writing all the letters of the alphabet he knows so far ( he wrote about 10 random letters) as well as making a new letter card- “o” for Owls this week.

Moving over to the plant kingdom, Liam started with a re-cap of the baby of the plant kingdom, the plant family known as fungi! He then took a look at and sketched the Five Kingdoms of Life, and how they are classified.   Algae and Seaweed were next, the dreamy plants of the underworld in the sea! Since we live on the coast we headed down to the beach to investigate hands on.

The last three of the week were Ferns, Horsetails and the Club Mosses. From the ancient times through the Ice Age, how did the fern family grow? What is a rootstock, a frond? How do the horsetails develop in two stages?

making fern prints using a hammer and a fern

Matisse inspired paper art of seaweed!

This week, Liam also worked on Changing units of weight and adding/subtracting weights, fractions and decimals in weight for his math measurement block that is also a main lesson this month. He’s enjoying it so far. The workbook is very hands- on and interactive, so – so far, so good! He does free-hand geometry once a week, this week was and exercise using equilateral triangles!

We also headed out for a nature hike this week and had a great time! We watched a music documentary, and the boys each made a Halloween picture to send to a dear friend who’s serving our country right now. Luke drew a scary pumpkin guy and a guy holding letters, Liam made a picture of “The Thing” and wrote a little letter to him on the back.

Luke’s

Liam’s

Pretty great week we had! 😉

# Harvest Moon and Wheat Fields

Autumn is in the air! We are finishing up September discussing the Harvest Moon, Autumn Equinox, changing leaves and Wheat field farming! All things that say “Autumn!” Next week is celebrating Michaelmas, then on to a Botany Block and Measurement Block for Liam using Christopherus Math material, and Luke will continue on with Harvest Time  based on curriculum from WeeFolkArt.

This week we kicked it off with a documentary on Wheat Field Farming. We all really enjoyed it and Liam asked about the process we were watching compared with today’s technology as the film was from the 1960’s. Good question, so we researched and had a discussion and compared the amount of bushels per acre in each era that was harvested in time due to the machinery and hand work by the farmers.

Drawing in Main Math lesson book on BU/AC

Luke’s Wheat Math- count and draw it out

Diagram of Wheat in Botany MLB

We are continuing to read My Side of the Mountain and using the companion book- Pocket guide to the outdoors. The boys enjoyed trying out some knot tying, hearing about the boy’s pet Falcon and lot’s of other outdoor survival tips throughout the story so far! Liam is making his own survival guide as we go along.

drawing of the mountains and survival guide cover page

Luke and I read many books about the leaves changing this week and here are some of his activities, and one they both enjoyed!

Leaf rubbings, and counting the points on each leaf

Luke has been working on paper crafts and building a 500 piece bird puzzle with me this week as well as learning the letter R and counting to 25. We made an R alphabet card and hung it with the others.

Monster paper crafts

Today they did  a drawing of one activity or time they enjoyed this week. Luke chose to trace a chameleon he found at the beach combined with a rocket. He narrated a short story about it and I wrote it down for him. Liam chose to create a drawing about saving the jellyfish this week- both boys ran up and down the beach throwing jelly’s back into the ocean!

Then we finished up the day with math. Liam worked on Fractions- adding, subtracting, multiplying and reciprocals & dividing as well as adding and subtracting on a number line in his workbook and Luke created robots with base ten counters, ten rods and geometric shapes and we read a counting rhyme together. Liam also did a leaf form drawing this week for geometry, keeping a steady but changing shape as a leaf falling into water would.

# one topic/many subjects and lots of art!

We kicked this rainy Tuesday off with a math lesson, mostly multiplication facts on MEP, and Chapter Four in LOF, which was also about multiplication and similes! Yes, the Life of Fred math books include more than just math topics! We also covered some Geography today, this week’s state is Arizona. We broke out the map and read the book “Unique Arizona” then colored in Arizona on the U.S. map sheet using the states abbreviation.

U.S. History was also covered, reading a few pages on colonial life and what kinds of medicine people used, what went on on Sundays and what a watchman’s job was. “…If you lived in Colonial Times” by Ann McGovern, is the book we’re reading. Nice child friendly book, gives a quick glimpse into the daily lives.

Another favorite book of mine is “The Big Handbook of  Nature Study” by Anna Botsford Comstock. Today we did a bird study on the White-Breasted Nuthatch.  We have one that we frequently watch in our yard and who comes to our feeder every now and then. As I read all about the bird, I provided a picture of the White-Breasted Nuthatch as a visual study. This came in handy as we read about the coloring as well as the footing it has that enables them look at the world mostly upside down. We then proceeded with a narrative speaking exercise in which he answered and discussed the questions at the end of the chapter as well as things he has observed with the birds in the yard.

Within this chapter was a poem about the nuthatch, so I typed it into Word, added lines for copywork.

He will copy two sentences each day until complete as part of his grammar and spelling lessons this week.

In keeping with the topic of the White-Breasted Nuthatch, we next did an art activity. First studying the picture I asked how many colors does one see in the birds feathers. I then asked him to choose the tubes of paint that best match, and if there wasn’t one, such as the silver blue of the bird, he picked three colors to mix to create this color. He got it right on with the first mix of colors! I then talked about negative space in art. Today I wanted him to use the coloring of the bird and make a negative space collage using feathers.  Using the watercolors, he held down the feather and painted on top of it letting the water do the work! It came out really pretty!

Meanwhile, my two year old is playing with his trains on the floor since 5:30 this morning! So with him still occupied, we started reading our second book of the year. We just finished a Fiction book (Wonder Struck), now we’re headed into the genre of Animals.  I chose “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame.  We managed to get in about 10 pages, just enough to get started!

Good timing, now my two year old is ready to “play a game” as he always says. I had planned on doing shape printing with him today. I had kept a variety of circle objects aside from various objects: caps, tubes, lids etc.  I handed him the tools and he did the rest!

Once he was finished with this, he still wanted to do more! So we did another circle print using bubble wrap this time!

Paint the bubble wrap, press the paper down and lift!

# Free Educational Resources

Here are some free sites for books and other online educational freebies! I use most of these, some more than others.  A few are geared toward homeschooling, but can be enjoyed by anyone just the same! If you have   favorite that needs to be added, let me know! Check back often as I will update and add to the list as I come across new sites/resources!

Elementary Math:

Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching- (MEP)

Fun for the brain-mulitplication

Math Fact Cafe

Mothmatic Math-online game

Book and Language:

International Children’s Digital Library

Magic Tree House

Shel Silverstein

Kids Literature

Usborne

Shakespeare for kids

Online Mad Libs- Wacky Web Tales

History:

Scholastic-colonial times

History for Kids

British Culture

Lego Castle

Civil War

The Middle Ages

Science:

50 Birds and more

Animals Myths and Legends

Nature Detectives

Kids Biology

National Geographic for kids

Space Place-NASA kids

Biology for Kids

Bats for Kids

Art/Music:

Olga’s Gallery

Classics for Kids Music

National Gallery of Art for Kids

Norman Rockwell Museum

Getty Games-Art Museum

Social Studies and Geography:

Heifer International-build a better world

Connecticut Kids

Social Studies for Kids

Foreign Language:

Spanish for Children

Foreign Language printable worksheets

Online Educational Game Sites:

Funbrain

Brainpop jr

Brainpop

Poptropica

Covers all Subjects!:

Some of these are not free, but can be used for ideas, resource and finding supplies. Easy Peasy is totally free and a complete curriculum.

Easy Peasy-

Simply Charlotte Mason

Queen Homeschool Supply

The Tanglewood School Supply

An Old Fashion Education

Documentary Tube

education.com

neok12-site that has videos on all subjects

Discovery Kids

# A couple of Bumps,Birds and Sunflowers

We began our morning with math today, this is the subject that gets the most complaints, so I figured lets dive in and move on! This is a new program for us, so I wasn’t sure where to begin, we are using Singapore Math and started with 3A. After three days starting with exercise one, we jumped up to 14, which was more like where we left off last year.  Only a few grumbles, then we did indeed move on. I ordered a small book on spelling as most of his spelling comes from copywork, but I did want a backup source for those days that required something new to keep the campers happy. I have to say I do not like the pages or the exercises, so my thought is to use the word list for each week, if he can spell the word orally we move on to the next, if he’s not able to, he is to write it down and we will memorize it until he’s got it! There’s always a few bumps in the curriculum as the new year begins and getting a smooth routine going. Tweak this and change that, forget this and add that!

Part of this years studies are on the 50 states, and as we study them one by one, I am asking that as we go through a resource card is made with facts for quick referral when ever needed. He chose to write the state name and abbreviation on one side and the capitol and state bird on the backside. He loves birds, so I wasn’t surprised that this was one thing he wanted to remember! For this particular state he chose a yellow card to write in on because of the state bird, good choice!

He then asked if he could look through the rest of the book to see which bird was which for each state and proceeded to do so only to find himself questioning the book and saying this has to be wrong!…..some states have the same bird? Shouldn’t they each have a different one? I asked, so you think they made a mistake in the book? Go look it up on the computer then. So he did, and turns out that one bird is indeed the bird of more than one state! Ok, next!

After doing some writing, time for a creative break…. we studied Vincent van Gogh’s biography earlier in the week and I placed the picture of “Fourteen Sunflowers in a Vase” for a picture study, then grabbed his picture/art journal for him to apply his own artistic take on sunflowers.  He wanted to use markers, but I persuaded him to use colored pencils as it has a more “fine arts” appeal to them and not so “kiddish” as I put it. Well, his eyes lit up on that one! He always likes to feel more grown up… He to my surprise, planned it all out and took his time, and even asked how to make it look shaded around the sunflower seeds at the bottom. He was very proud of it and asked if I could take a picture of it to show everyone.  So here it is!

Vase with 12 sunflowers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile, my 2 year old is fascinated by trains, trucks, and anything else with wheels right about now! The only books I have taken from the library lately are all bout transportation! We read a whole pile together each night, I start, my husband finishes and he’s off to sleep. He helped me put tracks down and had certain spots he wanted either the tunnel or the bridges to go and he took it from there! Early math and language skills, perfect for a toddler!

We wrapped up the morning with the first chapter in “The Burgess Bird Book for Children” meeting Jenny Wren as she explains to Peter Rabbit why she’s been away all winter long.

Another great living book about birds! Very enjoyable, with gentle lessons on wildlife.  Next week we look forward to meeting, The Old Orchard Bully!

Then off to the dentist we went!