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!




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!

IMG_20141009_121408_002We 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!

10inch wing span!

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.

5 kingdomsIMG_20141007_103948_362IMG_20141009_113158_738


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

making fern prints using a hammer and a fern

Matisse inspired paper art of seaweed!IMG_20141007_095533_035

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.





IMG_20141008_112742_496IMG_20141009_113126_880IMG_20141008_112407_816park hike 010

Pretty great week we had! 😉

Festival of Michaelmas- day 1

Associated with courage and portrayed as a warrior angel, the Tale of Archangel Michael is on September 29th and our focus this week. We will be focusing on the traits of strength and courage as well as Dragons, the color yellow and the star shape- all related to the tales we read this morning. Michaelmas Story of the Star Children and Michael and the Dragon!


Michaelmas Chalk Drawing this week- image idea found on Pinterest

We sat and read two different tales and compared and contrasted the stories introducing this new to us celebration. The other enrichment books we have to go along with this week are pictured below.

Dragon Scales and Willow Leaves

Dragon Scales and Willow Leaves

Thomas and the Dragon Queen

Thomas and the Dragon Queen

Yellow is my Color Star

Yellow is my Color Star

The Reluctant Dragon

The Reluctant Dragon

Liam created paper dragon art and we made leaf crowns once outside, sewing the leaves together!

art licrowns

After some book work we headed out to the beach to relax and soak in some of that summer sun while we still can!


Waldorf Inspired lessons today

I have always been one to be eclectic in our curriculum because I love so many different styles and philosophies- Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Amelia, Charlotte Mason are a few favorites.

Waldorf Education is based on the work of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Its premise is that the human being has three aspects: thinking, feeling and willing, and that education has to come from experiencing the world from all three aspects. Waldorf Education does not use textbooks. The children make their own based on their experiences.

After reading quite a bit this past weekend on Waldorf Education, I had a few ideas and was excited to try out a few things! My top favorite was the Math Multiplication  circle board- being understood that  the child thinks,feels and is willing to learn, the 3 aspects of Waldorf ed.  Here is a link to the video I watched on how this method works.IMG_20140102_134702_470

We made ours using foam board, nails and yarn. I also drew and colored in the 5 different circles as Liam used the board and went over his times tables.  He really loved it and did great! He first did each one orally then wrote down a few as well. We will continue using these as he enjoyed them- they are both visual and physical tools for success!math

Luke did Waldorf watercolor art- I saturated the paper with water so he could just really focus on the colors and movement of the paints.

We then read a fairy tale- Jataka Tales- The Monkey and the Crocodile and we are going to draw an illustration to go with it tomorrow using pastels.

The next book was for Luke- called LMNO peas. Awesome visual letter story- followed by a math memory game that also had visual pictures that we stopped to view as we found each match. In Waldorf education, the letters are presented as pictures which appeal to the child’s imagination. In reality the letter is clothes in the picture…the picture is the key. All letters of the alphabet were once pictures themselves.

Here is a great reference site for Waldorf Introduction

As well as this one : Waldorfhomeschoolers

Brought to you by the letter A- “Aa” Andy Warhol and Arithmetic Patterns

Before Mr. Sun made his appearance today, we were already busy at work! Over the past few weeks Luke, who will be three in January, has been more and more interested in computer games, puzzles, patterns and loves reading books. I’m taking his cues as time to start with some basic introductions of preschool skills; games and activities to enhance early reading/math logic/motor skills. Time to take it to the next step with some more formal one on one time!

I had saved many months back a free download called Exploring Letters in My World by Teacher Book Bag. It is a hands-on approach using a variety of learning techniques.  It isn’t always free, but here is the site I got it from when they were having a special: Currclick.

Starting with the letter A! As I printed out a few pages to start with, I set him up at the computer to play on a terrific site called Starfall. He was giggling and repeating the phonetic sounds and saying “A” as he clicked along.





While he was enjoying himself, I started laminating the letter A, putting together some letter A cards and thinking of some game to play using the giant letter A page.

He came to the table and looked through the My Letter A Book, then I had an idea of coloring some salt and hiding the letter A under it so he could find it. Placed the laminated sheet on a tray and covered it with the salt. Then using the hand over hand method, we’d trace the letter together a few times. He loved finding it under the salt and shouted “A” and said “cool game, Mom!”

He did this repeatedly and had lots of fun doing it! With one more extension to this lesson I grabbed the popsicle sticks I had handy and laid them down on top  of the A for an added visual and a puzzle type of activity.










Andy Warhol study was next for my older son. We watched a short cartoon video via youtube, then I had found a downloadable booklet from an art museum that explained his pop art and contained a few images and excersizes. I have a few more books coming from the library to further study his life and art, so today was just a kick off! Learning about his work explored the relationship between artistic expression, celebrity culture and advertisement. I asked Liam to think of TV, Pop Stars or a product he’d like to feature in his Warhol inspired piece that we were going to do today. Using one image or product and repeating it as Warhol did. Well, Beyblades are his favorite things right now, so we took photos of them and then used some editing (he chose the images, features and colors)and came up with this! Now it’s a poster on his bedroom wall.

” 4 Battling Beyblades”














The next “A” thing of our day today was to my amazement, much more than I had expected it to be.  I bought some geometric plastic shape pieces, and put them out on the table.  We all automatically started playing around with them.  Luke placed all the big yellow hexagons together and I said “hey, it looks like a caterpillar” to which he said “ooh, he’s hungry!” Referring to The Very Hungry Caterpillar story.

So, I made him a carrot. Then Luke said “now his stomach hurts.” So, I made him a nice green leaf! We continued doing this over an over for quite awhile, it was so fun and great lesson in size, shapes and colors as well as recalling the story!

Liam grabbed shapes and made a whole village and proceeded to make up an entire story about a village under attack! -” There was a guy with a sword and shield who came to attack the village and castle, he attacked two of the homes. The castle defended it using fire balls!  So, since the castle failed, they paid the two houses to buy them to make new taller and safer homes. ”

As the story was told in sequence the shapes were moved around to match the story being told.

And they all lived happily ever after……

More on learning math through play

American Heroes


September 11th, the perfect time to talk about American heroes, America and The Flag. With today being Patriot Day, I started off on a lesson on how this day came to be. We read a kid friendly outline on what happened here in America on 9/11/01 here on this website along with a short video on the Attack of the Twin Towers. Which led us into a discussion on everyday heroes and who helped us that day and everyday! What it means to be a true American Hero.

As it would be, Liam is in Boy Scouts and had “homework” after his first meeting this week to find two famous and or great Americans and tell things they did or are doing to help improve our way of life.  This tied in perfectly with today.  He’s still working on the second famous/great American, but he without hesitation chose two of our family friends who are both in the army as his first great Americans. He said “Well, my first one is going to be Crissy and Jr., because they help us everyday.” I said “that’s a great choice, how do they help improve our lives?” To which he said “well, they fight for us and protect us in our country.” We both were amused that the print out was a male and female too, worked out perfectly.

Next we read “The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner By the Dawns Early Light” by Steven Kroll

Great story on how the song became the national anthem. Stating with the War of 1812, historically accurate details and beautiful pictures.

We then listened to the song and he sang along via video on youtube.



I am not usually one to teach with worksheets, however I did come across these and liked them.  Great time line for the American flag, vocabulary words and definitions on the Pledge of Allegiance, poem about the flag. I found them on








Continued on with math, took a little break, did some straw blowing art, then wrapped up the morning with some more reading of “The Wind in the Willows” I had made up a book/character study sheet for him to use as we read, trying to get him to connect with the story and characters as well as be aware of essential parts of a book. He’s not overly thrilled but we’ll see if it ends up being a useful tool in the end?! He says he likes to just listen, so I explained it’s just like taking a few notes as we read, not to write sentences and with that he seemed more into it, and wrote more than I had expected.


Aviation and Egrets

This weekend the boys each made their own walking sticks, so we had planned to go for a hike today. It was the perfect morning, a little chilly, sunny and a nice way to ease back into the week. My oldest, also became excited about riding his bicycle this weekend too, so I figured we’d make a morning of it and go for and bike and hike at the local beach state park.

( PVC pipes, wrapped in camo duct tape! perfect size each of them and light weight! Dad drilled a hole and added rope for them)

As we entered the park we saw some wildlife in the salt marshes. After the bike ride we walked over to the observation area- which prompted the question of the day: Are these birds cranes or Egrets? and, What is the difference?

We headed down one of the roads first so Liam could bike and Luke was a bit sleepy so I pushed him in the stroller as we headed towards the water. Very peaceful and quiet, towards the end of the road Luke was ready to walk so he got out and had fun chasing after Liam.

We made it back to the car, grabbed the walking sticks and made our way over to the observation deck, where we were able to observe many birds in the marsh. Liam read aloud to us all the info on the board about the habitats, birds and their diets/nesting habits. He was most excited to see the one bird with it’s baby and wanted to use the camera to take a picture of them himself.

Once we returned home, had some lunch, it was time to start some investigating! Were those birds Egrets or Cranes?! We have a few bird field guides so we began to look through, even with those it was had to distinguish the two. We pulled up some info on the internet also, but it was still hard to be 100% sure! Many similarities, except for the beaks. The birds we saw, one had an orange color and one had a black colored beak. So, with our best guesstimate… we think we saw both? Liam has a nature journal that we add to once every so often, I asked him to make an entry in it using these pictures and write down something as well. He wrote “To be a crane or egret….that is the question?!”

With that we moved onto some concrete lessons! 🙂

Life of Fred math-a short lesson on single and double digit multiplication.

Geography- we watched a short video on the 50 states and their capitols.

Science- Famous Inventors,  is what the topic will be for the next couple of months. Today we read about the Wright Brothers. I read aloud the book “My Brothers’ Flying Machine” by Jane Yolen.  We compared how long the first flight was to how long it takes him to microwave his chicken nuggets! He also liked that the first flight was in North Carolina, because that’s where Grammy and Grampy live!

Literature: We continued reading a bit more of  “Wind in the Willows” Some of the wording is a bit confusing for him, so I read a paragraph or two, then pause and do a quick recap to help him follow along.

Grammar: The lesson was a review on types of sentences. He was thrilled to see it was based on The Magic School Bus! He was to fill in different types of sentences about a field trip- statement, question, command or exclamation. He made it a trip to Atlantis and used the character names in the sentences and used the catch phrase “seat belts, everyone!” He loved it, read it over and over to himself and the best part was he was writing without noticing it! 🙂  He hates to write unless it’s something like this that has a little spark to it.

He then moved on to organizing and cleaning out his toy box while Luke and I attempted to play the game Doggie Bingo- match the patterns to the correct dog house. Then he was off to watch Little Einsteins.

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

Dr. Suessville
We Give Books

Kids Literature

Links and Living Books-lists


Shakespeare for kids

Online Mad Libs- Wacky Web Tales


Scholastic-colonial times

History for Kids

British Culture

Lego Castle

Civil War

The Middle Ages


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


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:


Brainpop jr



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

Head of the Class

Oak Meadow

Documentary Tube

neok12-site that has videos on all subjects

Discovery Kids

Weekend Visitors

An American Goldfinch came to our backyard feeders this weekend. We have two feeders set just outside our picture window, and this male goldfinch made several visits! My oldest new this bird’s identity already and did not need to use his guide book, so we just marked the date in his book and read a few facts. This fact in particular had both boys giggling: The goldfinch’s twittering sounds like potato-chip, potato-chip!

We also spotted spiders and many webs around the house as we took a walk around the yard.  I’m not a fan of spiders in any way but, this one was pretty neat to see.  This web, and several of the others were just amazing and huge! I do not know what type this is however, and upon a quick look at types of spiders  via internet, I was grossed out! Sorry!

We have a book about nature projects for kids, and in it is a project on how to collect spiders’ webs! First find a large web, spray hairspray on it, shake talcum powder over the web, spray again, then slide your paper behind it and lift up! The web sticks right to the paper and with the powder on it, you can really check out the design pattern!

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

We have been enjoying the summer, but I felt it was time to get back into the groove this week.  Although we inserted as much education into our outings and the weekly trips to the library served us well in not totally abandoning all things educational for the past few weeks, it’s time to officially begin our “school year.”

This years topics: Middle Ages, Colonial Times, the 50 States, various genres of literature/poetry, Intro to Spanish, various Science topics, Singapore and Life of Fred mathematics. Follow along as I will always share quality books I find to go along with the different topics we are studying!

First Book:

“When Knights Were Bold”by Eva March Tappan

Squires Castle in the Fall

Squires Castle in the Fall (Photo credit: Tim_Arai)

This is the first book we are starting on the Middle Ages. Before I began to read aloud the first few pages, I asked him what he knew about this time period already. Apparently at boyscout camp a few weeks ago, this topic came up, as part of the camp was named “The Sherwood Forest” and his favorite activity of the week was archery! (I love it when one thing unexpectedly leads to the next!) So, he knew of a few things as we started.

Before jumping into the first chapter, I asked him if he knew the difference between a Page, Squire and Knight. I have to say I liked the explanation (8yrs): ” Well a Knight he’s like the ultimate guy, the Squire is his right hand man and I’m not sure what a Page is.”  By the end of the first chapter he had comprehended that a  Page was a boy close to his same age and found that scary and intriguing all at once! He said that it sounded like it was pretty hard to live back then, but fun too if you can become a Knight, hmmm?!
As we finished he said “I like this year better already, all the new books, even the math is better!”  ….SCORE!

Next highlight of today:

‘Wonder Struck”by Brian Selznick – JFiction

This book was recommended by a fellow home school parent at our “Happy Homeschool Hikers” group meeting last week. We’ve only just begun the first chapter on this one as well, but AMAZING! It is “A Novel in Words and Pictures.”  The basis is two children 50 years apart in time,  each tell a story, Ben’s in words, Rose’s in pictures and they begin to weave back and forth and unfold the symmetry. This quote in the first chapter that appeared more than once  “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”  had us both thinking and wondering what it might mean as we see the two characters coming together, a little foreshadowing perhaps! This was a great opportunity to teach him about foreshadowing and what it means as well as great grounds for narrative speaking on his part.

Once again, I love the Charlotte Mason approach of using living books for learning it is so effective and enjoyable!