Things Worth Observing!

“Let Nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth

Many tools needed for one jobHard work pays off

With the blizzard just a couple days ago, Liam had set to work on building an igloo for himself. A little persistence, many tools and lots of hard work- it finally paid off! He is outside right now as it’s raining to see if it is indeed a good shelter… How wet do you think I’ll get???

Hmmm, we’ll see!

He already observed that the wider it gets the less warm it feels inside.  He says he has to be careful as he plans out how to carve out the inside because it could collapse.

This is all play to the children, but the mother is doing invaluable work; she is training their powers of observation and expression, increasing their vocabulary and their range of ideas by giving them the name and the uses of an object at the right moment,–when they ask, ‘What is it?’ and ‘What is it for?’
– Charlotte Mason

Also, with the blizzard we’ve had many feathered friends out back gathering food! Luke has become interested in them and sits by the window watching and talking to them. He asks me to identify the different birds he’s seeing and wants to see a book with their pictures in it! I’ll be borrowing one of Liam’s bird books shortly for him. 🙂DSCF9989DSCF9990

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Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.  ~Marc Brown

* yup, A day in homeschool*

* We’re not trying to do “School at Home.” We’re trying to do homeschool. These are two entirely different propositions. We’re not trying to replicate the time, style or content of the classroom. Rather we’re trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning in which learning takes place from morning until bedtime 7 days each week. The “formal” portion of each teaching day is just the tip of the iceburg. – Steve and Jane Lambert ( Five In A Row )

A little less screen time, a little more imagination

Last week was filled with field trips to museums – a new “screen” time schedule for the boys to follow in order to minimize that immediate -go to- reaction when there is downtime.  It is winter and has been very cold to get outdoors, but I know if they just took a minute to think of something to do rather than sit in front of a tv, computer or video game, I’d see some imagination and creativity! It seems each winter we go through thThey each have an allowance of time slotted for each day, it can be either planned out in advance or used as wished throughout the day, subtracting the time left as used. I have to say after a week now I haven’t even heard a grumble, Liam has been monitoring his own time and using it fairly well, Luke is a bit too young still and doesn’t really sit down very long to really bother with (but to be fair)…

What have they been doing with their time once schooling is done? Liam has been doing some woodworking in the basement carving a stick, building forts, making up games and characters with his legos, yesterday we built forts and made ice bird feeders, did yoga all together and played “our neighborhood” a.k.a. Luke and I mailed Liam letters under his door, wrote back and forth, he even asked for some bills to be mailed to him so he could use play money! I am so loving the creativity and seeing them play together! Yeah! I think I finally found a “screen time allowance” that is practical fair and working!!

Today we are headed out to a science museum and then tomorrow we are joining our happy homeschool hikers for a day on the trails!

All about Winter-Books, Activities and Animals

Briggs' illustration of the snowman.

Briggs’ illustration of the snowman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The month of December is always festive, hectic and full of events! Knowing this, I planned to have an easy breezy December homeschool schedule this year. (Not to mention a full 40 hours of work each week, being in retail) Most days we just did some quick math sheets with either a winter or Christmas theme, copywork of multiplication facts, LOF and patterns and shape matching with Luke- the rest looking back just fell into place! In covering the topic of Winter, we read many books on Hibernation, Snowflakes, The Arctic and Antarctica, The History on Christmas and Christmas traditions around the world, baking in the kitchen, and several winter outings as well.

As we wrapped things up this week before the Holiday ahead, my oldest put together this Arctic/Hibernation poster on the highlights of his studies over the month.

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Luke has been working on his patterns and using scissors as well as the what seems like…the never ending potty training! ;p His favorite book this month was  Pooch on the Loose by Steven Kroll. A story about a dog who wants to explore New York City at Christmas time. He loved it mostly because it had a map on the inside front and back cover of the book. He just loves, loves maps lately!winter 005

His other favorite is the story Jingle, both boys now have the story and the dog and have sat together a few times to read together. Love those kind of moments!

I wanted to share the books we read this month for anyone who is interested in a Unit type study on Winter, Hibernation, Snow etc.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season and hold those memories in your heart! This year in wake of the recent Sandy Hook event, I will be extra thankful I get to spend mine with my family and friends (near and far)  Enjoy and I’ll share again real soon as I already see a break in work hours for January, so I’ll be planning to get more accomplished with some activities!

Cover of "Welcome to the Ice House"

Cover of Welcome to the Ice House

 

Book List:

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

Come Look with me Animals in Art by Gladys Blizzard ( great picture study book)

The Story of Snow The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino

Ice Bear and Little Fox by Johnathan London

Welcome to the Ice House by Jane Yolen

Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Wind Blows by Marianne Berkes

Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration by Marianne Berkes

How do you know it’s winter? by Ruth Owen

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished~Lao Tzu

Last week our hiking friends contacted us, as we had not been able to join the group for our weekly hikes for a couple of months now. Gratefully, they were flexible and accommodating to our availability this week and we met for a two-part hike yesterday.  The quote “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” fits perfectly as our hike was one of the longest yet; 7hrs on the trails!

-Haley Farm State Park and Bluff Point State Park-

Upon our arrival our friends were there to meet us as well as a new family! It was great to see our older family and we immediately hit it off  with the new family.  We set out and the boys all ran ahead, grabbed sticks, talked about legos and such 🙂 It wasn’t too long before they spotted a nesting area in the woods and took guesses on who’s home it may be. We then stopped by the water’s edge and they climbed along the rocks- the imagination and conversations never stopped!

Next, they all spotted a huge boulder to explore and had a quick quiz on what type of rock it was and how it was formed. A few of the puddles surrounding the rock had baby spiders  in them! They all loved this find!

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We headed out took a new path that led us to a foot bridge over the train tracks and as luck would have it, the train came by. As we continued walking the boys continued with games; hiding behind trees, climbing rocks spotting different specimens to examine and throwing rocks into a small body of water we came across. We stopped for a snack, explored some rocks and shells then turned back to head towards the cars….again many stops for exploring, conversations and climbing rocks!

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Once back at the cars, we decided to head over to Bluff Point about five minutes down the road for a picnic lunch. It was only down the street, but the difference in temperature was drastic! We all had to bundle up as the wind was pretty constant and cold by the picnic tables. As we all cleaned up and re-packed our bags for our next hike, the boys had gathered their legos and started a new games chasing each other around and making plans for a get together to trade pieces with eacNew Image09h other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once everyone was ready (many bathroom trips and last minute adjustments later) we headed out to make our way to the Bluff. As we came to the first beach area, the boys found many rocks to collect, jellyfish and clam shells to explore, etc. This stayed true for the entire walk! We kept joking that we were going to be hiking back in the dark! A normal hours walk out to the bluff turned into  about a two hour walk- We finally made it to the bluff, took some photos and then headed down to the rocky coast just down below for some more explorations and a lesson on types of rocks as one of the parents has vast knowledge on rocks and their formations.

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At this point the sun was starting to set, so we started to head back. We were using flashlights by the time we made it to the parking lot! It was a beautiful sunset and a great way to have spent our day! A round of hugs for all, plans to get together soon-we were off! Nothing was rushed, and everything was accomplished!

 

 

 

 

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Wrapping up a whirl-wind week!

With the hurricane this week, we didn’t get a whole lot accomplished, but we ended on a good note! We were only without power for two days which was very lucky when compared to what others were and still are without and struggling with as I sit in my warm living room with all family members safe and sound.

It’s funny how things work in retrospect, I was feeling unmotivated and not really enthused by my lesson plans last week and this week…so this morning I jumped online to search the library catalog and find some inspiration as well as pulling out my original outline for the year.  I found several books I ‘m excited for and they just so happened to co-inside with a few of today’s lessons.

Today we did a Chapter in LOF for math multiplying 10’s, 100’s and 1,000’s.  I also used our money flash cards and asked him to use real coins to match the total cents using other combination of coins other that those featured on the card.  Both were fairy simple lessons and not too challenging for him, so I think I’ll go ahead with the idea that popped into my head while lying awake last night… making some multiplication wheels with paper plates and begin introducing/reviewing some facts. I also found some great lessons on ratio’s in the I hate mathematics! book.  So I ‘m feeling some motivation there….

Next up, we did some science reading some books on Sea Otters.  A great book called Sea Otters by Peter Murray, featured lots of great facts on life, diet and behavior etc.  We also read Otter on His Own by Doe Boyle, a fictional story with factual information that led us into a discussion on the differences between river otters and sea otters and the climates they prefer. Again, perfect lead into next week as I plan to discuss hibernation upon finding the books: Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration by Marianne Berkes and Over in the Artic: where the cold winds blow-( same author)

In History as we discover the Westward Expansion, I read the next chapter in the book Westward Ho! The story of the Pioneers by Lucille Recht Penner. Today’s chapter featured Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Davy Crockett led us into the discussion of tall tales which funny enough is the next genre of literature I picked to start next week! I chose The enormous egg by Louis Darling.

I’ve been slack in our studies of the middle ages so I found the story The World of Quest by Jason T. Kruse.  I’ll say we’ve also switched gears a bit for Geography as well, seems we’ve not really stuck to the plan of one featured state a week and sort of got off track and did a lot just on New England. To regroup a bit I decided to do a general study on the 50 States and found Our 50 States: a family adventure across America by Lynne Cheney and Celebrate the 50 states by Loreen Leedy.

Here’s hoping to get back on track with some motivational books and topics! 🙂

Willow Branch Lantern

 

With all the beautiful fall leaves falling to the ground I was in search of a fun and different fall craft to do today. I found this Leaf Lantern idea! Over the weekend I purchased the willow sticks at the local craft store as we already had all the other materials on hand.

First I asked him to measure out four equal sized sticks for the base and two cross pieces for the bottom. Then four tall and equal sticks for the pyramid shape which we tied together and then began adding cross pieces to strengthen and add design to the lantern as it will show through when lit.  He read the directions out loud, step by step with some team work as it does get tricky attaching all the pieces we got the base completed.

Next he tore pieces of tissue paper, he chose red and layered them across the sticks to cover it in it’s entirety.  The instructions called for an actual tea light candle, but we are using a battery operated one! The last touch was to gather leaves from outside and add them to the top of the lantern-done! It took roughly an hour’s worth of work, and looks really neat!

Heifer International Farm Visit

We visited Overlook Farm again today for the Harvest Festival. This is a working Learning Center that is part of Heifer International. In a previous post called Moo-ving project you can view our other visit.

Today we had the best experience with the kids learning hands on global issues concerning hunger and poverty. The farm had hay rides, lots of activities for the children, scavenger hunts and we walked through to explore the homes in the Global Village and learn about traditional harvest celebrations in Peru, Poland, Kenya and more. There was also a delicious lunch prepared from the farms products! My oldest was really able to see the process from garden to table! Though I really didn’t think about “schooling” today we walked away with a lot of new knowledge! All of us!

Heifer offers free Global Education kits. They are amazing- I speak from experience! We took action after using the kit and raised money to buy a few Living Gifts!

If you are able to take a field trip, please do so! Here are the locations. We live about and hour and a half away, but so worth the trip every time!

Older children and those of 18 and older can volunteer and live on or off the farm! My oldest who’s eight already has said many times, he wants to volunteer as soon as he is old enough!

The Scavenger Hunt took us a while! This was one of the clues : There are many purple plants in the garden, and although I’m one of the smallest, none of the other purple plants smell as good as I do or have prettier flowers. If you can find the other purple plants, write them down but be sure to  get one leaf from me and smell it! I taste particularly good with tomatoes and mozzarella.

Really make you think and look closely! We got all 12 of them! Whew!

Garden Scavenger Hunt

View of the cattle

Making a bees wax candle

Playing Instruments Together

Guinea pig in Peru

Learning to weave a bookmark