Jun 172016
 

child sitting in corner

Charlotte Mason encourages math using everyday situations. Our home school math curriculum encourages mental math. I sometimes struggle to find examples the kids actually care about.

Today, the kids found their own examples while having a consequence.

Here is how it all went down:

I am tired of them telling me their rooms were picked up and ready for inspection when they really were not ready for me to do so.

Expectations were set before hand, reminders were even given for areas I knew they often forget to address. (George even has a list posted on his wall for things to check. It is not hard.)

I explained to them that it was a waste of my time to check out a room they knew was not ready for me to check. I would then have to call them back, listen to their whining, and delay me moving on to my next job while they did what they were supposed to have done the first time. Therefore, if they called me for inspection before it was actually completed they would owe me wasted time of their own – 1 minute for each item you did not do. (make bed, pick up clothes, turn off radio, etc.)

Surprise!

They both had to sit for several minutes while I picked up my room. AND it was for the things I had specifically reminded them to address.

Here is where the math appeared.

Jack: George, I have to sit for 7 minutes, while you have 6 minutes. That means I have 1 minute more than you.

…a few minutes later…

Jack: If it has been 4 minutes that means … George you have two more minutes and I have 3 more.

And here I was worried about him knowing his math facts. He seems to have it down when it involves something personally relevant. 🙂

May 312016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

nature center tree bird pond

Though it is summer, we are continuing certain parts of our school days.  This includes reading a poem of the day, an aspect whose impact I had underestimated.  I had put off adding this as part of our morning routine for so long, assuming I would have to force the kids to listen to the poems.  As it turns out Jack really loves to hear them, usually.

Recently we finished the The Child’s Garden of Verses and moved onto the Oxford’s Book of Children’s Verse in America.  That is where we came across the following:

Robert Of Lincoln – Poem by William Cullen Bryant
Merrily swinging on briar and weed,
Near to the nest of his little dame,
Over the mountain-side or mead,
Robert of Lincoln is telling his name;
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Snug and safe in that nest of ours,
Hidden among the summer flowers.
Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln is gayly dressed.
Wearing a bright black wedding-coat;
White are his shoulders and white his crest,
Hear him calling his merry note:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Look, what a nice new coat is mine,
Sure there was never a bird so fine.
Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln’s Quaker wife,
Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings,
Passing at home a quiet life,
Broods in the grass while her husband sings:
Bob-o’-l ink, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Brood, kind creatures; you need not fear
Thieves and robbers while I am here.
Chee, chee, chee.
Modest and shy as a nun is she,
One weak chirp is her only note,
Braggart and prince of braggarts is he,
Pouring boasts from his little throat:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Never was I afraid of man;
Catch me, cowardly knaves, if you can.
Chee, chee, chee.
Six white eggs on a bed of hay,
Flecked with purple, a pretty sight!
There as the mother sits all day,
Robert is singing with all his might:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Nice good wife, that never goes out,
Keeping house while I frolic about.
Chee, chee, chee.
Soon as the-little ones chip the shell
Six wide mouths are open for food;
Robert of Lincoln bestirs him well,
Gathering seed for the hungry brood.
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
This new life is likely to be
Hard for a gay young fellow like me.
Chee, chee, chee.
Robert of Lincoln at length is made
Sober with work, and silent with care;
Off is his holiday garment laid,
Half forgotten that merry air,
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Nobody knows but my mate and I
Where our nest and our nestlings lie.
Chee, chee, chee.
Summer wanes; the children are grown;
Fun and frolic no more he knows;
Robert of Lincoln’s a humdrum crone;
Off he flies, and we sing as he goes:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
When you can pipe that merry old strain,
Robert of Lincoln, come back again.
Chee, chee, chee. 

(source: poemhunter.com)

I loved the mental imagery, as well as the inclusion of the various calls of the bobolink bird.  Learning bird calls makes knowing which birds are around a lot easier, as often they are hidden from sight or too far away to see clearly.  The children have learned a few birds, but there are many more to go.  Even I do not know as many as I should.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great site to hear the different calls of the Bobolink. They contain samples from the east, central, and west birds, as well as the ‘pink’, ‘buzz’, ‘see-yoo’, ‘zeep’, ‘quip’, and ‘chunk’ sounds.  They also have a flight song and a complex countersinging round.

Librivox’s recording of Chapter 25 of Through Fairy Halls of My Bookhouse also contains the first two stanzas of the much longer poem.

 

Mar 022016
 

14569514458741354569099

We are back to routines for the most part, sort of. All kids are doing school at their respective locations, a load of laundry was done, lunch was cooked, and a new morning routine has been formed in my mind.

I did change things a bit:

  • During afternoon Quiet Time I took down some wallpaper.  This was aided by a kid who got up, thereby necessitating a restart of the timer. This is normally a morning activity before everyone wakes up. However I have a renewed urgency to get this HUGE project done.
  • While writing this Jack is writing his spelling words. Who says I gave to write everything at one time?
  • During math practice I expanded some seed starting pellets.
  • Jack’s computer time was used to order a pencil sharpener and switch laundry, via another computer.
  • Lunch time also found me unloading and reloading the dishwasher. (Okay, that is pretty standard.)
  • Jack’s read aloud time allowed me to clear off part of a counter.
  • We got behind on our composer studies. Thanks to a CD from an inter-library loan Franz Schubert has been playing in the house all day long. Could this be lending a hand toward me feeling calmer?
  • A shower did not get on the list for me this morning, I didn’t even get a coat on when I left the house.  So Jack gets half an hour of t.v. while I add this indulgence to my afternoon activities.

IMG_20160302_134332504

Today feels better, calmer.  Could it be because I have not had 3 boys (8, 6, & 6) behind my in the car for the last 1.5 hours?

Or because life still has a semblance of normal? 

Or because I know our new guy, who still needs a blog name, will be gone during George’s after school time. This will allow us to get his homework done and spend some QT together. He has so many big feelings going on inside, but doesn’t always know how to express them.  Also, new little guy doesn’t seem to understand leaving someone alone while they do homework. George has trouble staying on task as it is, having a new friend constantly telling you to come play does not help.

I also bought some school supplies between dropping kids off at school and coming home to start home school. Boy, things are expensive during off season and at a store in Small Town.  Saved me 40 minutes of driving, though, which was worth it.

The urge to drop a coat off at the dry cleaners was ignored. Once home, I checked the tag – wash gentle cycle with cold water. Perfect, no extra bill.  I feel like I’m handing out money left and right this week.

My car problems may be passed. Maybe. The mechanic cleared the error message to see if it would come back. So far so good. My husband is insisting the kids and I take his (smaller) car to visit family this weekend. He would rather my car give out near home instead if two hours away from anyone we know.  It is crowded enough with two kids in the back, 3 is going to be interesting. I’m thinking movies from the library and getting to our destination as soon as possible may be the only hope for my sanity. Supper will be in the car. Potty breaks? I have not figured that one out yet.

Feb 252016
 

greenhouse speaker empty tablesOne of the field trips Jack and I went on in January was to a greenhouse.  The original plan did not have this as a stop, but sometimes you have to go with the flow and I think this turned out really well.  The person showing us around had about an hour’s notice that 50+ home schoolers and their families were wanting to come visit.  He did great!  His own kids, toddlers, were even there.  I suspect it was more of a “let’s go see what Daddy does at work” sort of thing, but I thought it was a perfect addition.  He also was fairly relaxed, which I suspect comes with getting to be in a greenhouse all day, I would be fairly relaxed too.

The photo above shows part of one room that was awaiting trays of plants.  The amount of space they  have to fill is several times the size of my house.  A few of the greenhouses could have fit my house twice and still had extra space.  This greenhouse complex is one belonging to a nation wide brand. The amount of plants coming out of this one set of greenhouses is amazing.

greenhouse tray filling station collage

Here is where it all begins: filling trays with seed starting mix (top left), making holes and dropping in seeds (lower left), adding a covering (bottom right), and watering the appropriate amount (top right).  Everything runs like clockwork.

The soil mix is added to the large hopper in bags that are as tall as me.  These bags come from somewhere off site and are delivered, each on top of their own pallet.  Yes, BIG bags of soil mix.

The trays are labeled with the type of plants to be started in them.  Someone in the office prints these off and attaches them.  Once they are wheeled out on a cart to this station, the workers do not need to count or thing much about what is to be going in them.

greenhouse seeds started

greenhouse seed starting trays

This is one of but many ‘arms’ of the greenhouses.  Each contains plants needing similar growing environments.  While it was cold enough for the ponds to be frozen outside, many of us had to strip off our coats and pull up our sleeves while here.  In warmer months, there are vents that can be opened.  Each end also held a fan to aid in air circulation.

greenhouse potted plants cutting source

Some plants do better propagating via cuttings.  There was a room for that, too.  These lovely ladies get to spend their day being pampered with food and individual drinks.  Later, they are the source for hundreds of new plants.

greenhouse cuttings taking root

Some plants will get too big for a table and are placed directly on the gravel floor to grow.  These cuttings have already rooted and were transplanted into pots to grow more.  They will not be ready to ship out for quite some time. which makes it important to get them started early.

greenhouse hanging baskets

Pots, pots, and more pots.  Everywhere we looked there were hanging baskets above our heads.  It seemed like any space they could put them, they did.  If you look close, you can see they are hooked onto a chain of sorts.  This is actually a conveyor belts, making it possible for a person to stand at one end and hook the hanging baskets on from one location.  It also aids in their removal. Due to the amount of light that enters these greenhouses, having hanging baskets above other growing plants is not an issue.  Actually it is a great use of space.

greenhouse floor childrens feet

By the end of the tour, the kids were tired.  It had been a long day.  I, however, was re-energized; a good thing as I was the one who had to drive back almost 2 hours.  In all, I think it was a great change to the schedule and would do this again.

Feb 242016
 

wooden forest path

Looking back can be a good thing.  It gives us perspective on how far we have come or back slid, or it can give us new energy to keep going toward our goals.  We might even be able to relearn something we have forgotten or learn something we did not understand at that time.

Here are a some posts from years past.  These were written during this time of the year.

This Week in School- December 28, 2014  – oh how lost I felt during this time.  “How do I implement what is in my head without overwhelming myself and my kid?  How do I get from Point A to Point Q?”  

In the end I ditched the worksheets.  They are there if the kids want to do them, but they really were busy work, one of the things Jack could not stand but which they did a lot of in his public school classroom.  I came to find out that he has this line of thought, “If I already know how to do it, why do I need to keep doing it 10 times?  There is Life to live. Seize the Day, because it might get to be bedtime and there may be more things I did not get to build.”  I kept pressing them for longer than was needed; I wanted to make sure Jack did not get behind … now I laugh as this kid learned even while taking a month off this past November/December.  

The method that ended up working the best was a version of unschooling with Charlotte Mason influences for the 2015 spring semester.  We had to work through all the bad habits and issues triggered by having gone to 3-4 months of Kindergarten.  It was not the act of going, but of having to tolerate that (loud, chaotic, many people around you who are unpredictable, boring because you had already figured out what they were teaching you but they made you sit and do fine motor skills anyway which you found tedious and difficult and pointless) environment and those demands, of having to leave the environment which made you feel safe.  There were further issues raised by having to go, but I will not go into them here.  He had to learn to love learning again, to not react to the word “school” negatively.

I started by changing the word and making it look nothing like what he had been doing.  Almost a year later and he is asking to do the things I had tried to implement last spring and this past fall.  Things that used to cause arguments and tantrums he is asking to do.  We have found a groove and I am hoping the end of it is a long way off.

Looking back, attachment is at the center of our reason for home schooling.  We are not a “here is your work, go find a quiet corner and do it” sort of family.  Well, we could be if I wanted them to never get anything done beyond playing with their toy cars.  I found that even improving his reading had to come from a place of relationship, he needed to feel safe and encouraged to step out on this new journey.  Once I figured out what was going on, I was able to change what I had been trying to do and results were quickly apparent.  In other words, I had to convince him that he really could read and do it in a way that was not confrontational or overwhelming.  Thank you “The Fox On A Box” for providing that doorway. (a non-affiliate link)

Now the logical follow-up, “if you home school Jack, why not George?”  Because no two kids are alike and neither are their needs.  George seems to need the extreme predictability of schedule that school provides.  We do continue to school over summer, mainly for George’s benefit.  Also, the way I have him do his homework very much is reflected in our style of home school, which reflects our style of living.  An example: last night he was to “work with money”.  That is what his homework sheet said.  I handed him my spare change jar and asked him to sort the money into piles.  Then I spend about 1 minute asking him about the different coins.  Today, with a snow day upon us, I will give him the envelope of money from our produce stand and have him do the same thing.  (Yes, I still have money from the stand that needs to be divided up; it has become a running joke between my friend and I.)  It will not be a long lesson, it will not involve a worksheet, and it will involve the real item.

I have been feeling like he is missing out, so I have begun saving one of the daily read alouds for when he is here.  Right now they are Aesop fables or one of the selections from 50 Famous Stories as those are two things we are behind in reading.  We have a lot of work on oral narration, as this is something they do not do in public school and I think he is a bit lost on what it actual is.

Monday night, I also asked him to cook supper.  The menu: hot dogs, chips and drinks.  I turned on the gas stove, then became hands off in the process.  Guidance in what needed to be done, in things to think about, in finding items in the fridge – that is what I contributed.  He was so proud of himself.  Again, not technically an academic area, but a reflection of what we want to teach our kids.

cooking hotdogs child

Don’t Replace It, Just Fix It! – finding a solution for our bed – I had forgotten this event happened last year.  The beginning of 2015 held a lot of things that broke and needed replacing.  Our bed slipped my mind though when I thought back.  What I have not forgotten was my joy in having it fixed.  It is actually something that came to mind earlier this week.  In their exuberance to show how much they love us, our kids like to flop, jump, squirm, wrestle on our bed.  While I love our kids, I also like our bed and have to tell them to “stop!  I have fixed it once and I do not want to do it again.  Get off the bed!”

Life Is Like A Game, which is why it was no surprise that George’s teacher said he is good at synonyms and antonyms.

DIY: Washing Machine Repair, Part 1 – now this I remember breaking.  🙁  It was a tough few months.

When You Have One Of THOSE Dreams … – because we could not let the fun stop at only a broken bed and a broken dishwasher.

How To Save $25 On Gardening Each Month With Swagbucks – still a relevant post and one I like to review from time to time, it helps keep me on track

Living Without An Oven – didn’t I say the fun kept going.  Yeah, and going. And going. And going.  It did finally end, I think this was the last major thing to break for a few months.  I think, as I have started to forget those bad memories.

Comrade In Arms … – I still remember this moment and count it as one of the lucky ones, getting to see something in nature that one normally wouldn’t because life moves too fast sometimes.

A Long, Tall Drink – I still do this for my houseplants.  This plant in particular seems to respond well to this method of watering.

Feb 162016
 

Rockome Gardens heart arrow

This post was originally set to be shared last week, before Valentine’s Day. However, a cold going through the house, a half day of school for George, my husband needing the computer for a school paper, and other things rose up to delay it being written.  Even if it is too late for Valentine’s Day this year, I hope you can take some inspiration away either for next year or for a future get together you are planning.  Sometimes, keeping things simple and schedule free works really well.

Last week I stepped outside of my comfort zone and invited some other kids over for a Valentine’s Day Party.  The goal was to make Jack feel less left out, and more like he can still have a life even if he is schooled at home.

One of the challenges of schooling only one kid at home is the lack of instant people to populate a ‘party’.  If there were 2 or 3 or 7 kids being taught here at home then it would be easy to have fun all on our own.  Having your mom and you at a part does not rank high on the coolness level when you are 6.  That becomes more like a fun activity than a party.

One of the challenges of home schooling one kid while sending the other to public school is the feelings of missing out when your public school sibling comes home with all these treats from the latest holiday party.  And you are not allowed to have any, which only makes it worse.

So, out of my comfort zone I stepped.  Messages were sent, invites given, and we awaited word.  To be honest, I only spoke to 3 families, with 5 kids between us.  Next time I am going to try reaching out to more.

The morning of the party, I had not heard back from anyone.  “Will anyone even come?” my inner voiced asked, always in doubt as to whether anyone will say “yes”.

I prepped Jack for the possibility that no one may come, as I had not heard a peep from any of the families.

It got to be party time and no one came.  I said, “Give it a few minutes, maybe they are running late.”

10 minutes later I get a text from Family #3, “We are running late.  Our keys are lost.”  Yes!  “Hey, Jack ….”

I let out a sigh of relief.  I would not have to resort to Plan B, which would have been more work for me the next day (7 kids and only me to supervise) and involve several families I know who send their kids to public school. (It was to be a half day for George, so I knew the mom’s would not object to someone offering to watch their kids for a few hours for free.)

I set the house up with 3 different stations, Montessori style.  The activities were there if the kids wanted to do them, but they did not have to do any of them.  They could also do as much of one station as they wanted to, if their hearts desired.  It was to be a completely child led morning.  I would make lunch, but the rest was up to them.

Station #1 was a Craft Activity.  A table was set up in the middle of our dinning room with crazy scissors, construction papers, coloring pages, glue, markers, and crayons.  They could color pictures, make bookmarks, make cards for people, or whatever else they could think of.

This activity was left up for a few days as Jack and George were really getting into it.  In the end it was only taken down because my husband needed the table back.

Valentines craft children

Station #2 was making Lollipop Flowers. Thanks to Katie at Ruffles & Truffles, I had a tutorial to follow.  While doing this in order to take pictures to show you, I placed and rolled the sucker in step #4 from the right side, or end, of the crepe paper.  Every other time I did it, I rolled from the other end, which I found easier.  Maybe the difference was all in my head, but I did want to mention it in case you were wondering.

This was also what I did for George to take to school for his class valentines.  For him I was unable to find a bag us suckers like the ones below and used the small version of Tootsie Roll Pops instead.  I did not like the look of them as well, since their wrapping sticks up off the sucker some.  Live and learn.  The kids did not care as candy is candy, that was all they was their only concern.

Lollipop flowers valentines collage

Station #3 was Decorating Cupcakes at a table in the kitchen.  I picked up an assortment of decorating items.  The amazing part was it taking me 4 different stores to find sprinkles and other decorative additions.  I was thoroughly shocked that it was so hard to find.  It got to be to the point where I was thinking of other crafts we could do.

These turned out to be a hit.  So much so that the pictures below are actually of ones Jack and George made after the party; the others were eaten immediately after they were made.

valentines cupcake decorating children collage

In the end the day was a success.  I liked the set up as it took little work for me once things began.  Next time, I think I will head to a local park and invite a somewhat different set of families.

 

Feb 132016
 

These ebooks are currently $0.00 on Amazon.  Click on the links below each picture to be taken to the page where you can download a digital version of the book.  Before purchasing the books, please double check the price to make sure it has not changed.  Before I had a Kindle I read these on my computer.  If you are wanting to do the same, go here to download the free application.  These are not affiliate links.

While searching for gardening ebooks this morning I came across some books geared towards kids.  A further search revealed even more books.  My kids often ask me to read something to them from my Kindle.  Currently the only ‘kids’ books I have are 50 Famous Stories Retold, which we use as a part of school, and a book on feelings.  Not exactly an extensive list of choices.

A lot of the books below are fairly simple and short, sometimes that is exactly what you need. A few are longer and have more details.  When you click through the link you will be able to take a look inside the book.   That will give you a good idea of what the rest of the book will look like.

Animals

Bugs and Insects Kingdom : K12 Earth Science Series: Insects for Kids

Its A Bugs World: Scary and Spooky Bugs: Insects for Kids – Entomology

Book of Scary Creatures on the Planet: Animal Encyclopedia for Kids

Blue Animals On The Planet: Animal Encyclopedia for Kids

Orange Animals On The Planet: Animal Encyclopedia for Kids

Crustaceans, What & Why? : Preschool Science Series: Marine Life and Oceanography for Kids Pre-K Books

All About Elephants

Bees Like Flowers

The Amazing Animal Superbook

Geography

3rd Grade Geography: Why Does it Rain?: Precipitation Weather for Kids

4th Grade Geography: North and South Poles: Fourth Grade Books Polar Regions for Kids

5th Grade Geography: Seas and Oceans of the World: Fifth Grade Books Marine Life and Oceanography for Kids

Around The Globe – Must See Places in the Middle East: Middle East Travel Guide for Kids

Around The Globe – Must See Places in South America: South America Travel Guide for Kids

Let’s Explore North America (Most Famous Attractions in North America): North America Travel Guide

Around The Globe – Must See Places in Africa: African Travel Guide for Kids

Let’s Explore Southeast Asia (Most Famous Attractions in Southeast Asia): Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Let’s Explore Canada (Most Famous Attractions in Canada): Canada Travel Guide

Let’s Explore Italy (Most Famous Attractions in Italy): Italy Travel Guide

Let’s Explore Australia (Most Famous Attractions in Australia): Australia Travel Guide

Let’s Explore Germany (Most Famous Attractions in Germany): Germany Travel Guide

Natural Sciences

Why Does It Happen?: Oceans, Seas, Lakes and Rivers: Oceanography for Kids

Space

Let’s Explore the Moon: Moons and Planets for Kids

About the Milky Way (Our Home Galaxy) : 3rd Grade Science Textbook Series: Solar System for Kids

101 Facts… Solar System. Space Books for Kids

History

Grade 2 History: Wayback Machine For Kids: This Day In History Book 2nd Grade

4th Grade History: Ancient Civilizations: Fourth Grade Books for Kids

4th Grade History Book: Mayans and Incas of South America: Fourth Grade Books Ancient Civilizations

5th Grade American History: American Presidents: Fifth Grade Books US Presidents for Kids

5th Grade Us History: Famous US Inventors: Fifth Grade Books Inventors for Kids

5th Grade US History: Famous US Authors: Fifth Grade Books American Writers

6th Grade American History: Founding Fathers and Leaders: American Revolution Kids Sixth Grade Books

Science

Famous Scientists and What They Did : Pre-K Science Series: Scientists for Kids Preschool Books

Five Human Senses, What & Why? : 3rd Grade Science Books Series: Third Grade Books

Grade 1 Science: For Curious Kids: Fun Science Trivia for Kids In Grade One

Phonics

Grade 2 Phonics: Better Baby Speakers: 2nd Grade Books Reading Aloud Edition

Music

I Love Music: All About Musical Instruments Then and Now: Music Instruments for Kids

Misc.

Let’s Explore the Construction Site: Construction Site Kids Book

Things That Go – Boats Edition: Boats for Children & Kids

Jan 262016
 

Science Kids on the Loose

Sid The Science Kid: Growing Plants takes a look into a preschool classroom or daycare as kids plant and compare lima bean plants.  This short video shows kids how to plant a seed.  The kids then take a look at plants grown from seeds, started at various times in the past; some are seedlings and others are almost a foot tall.

If you are looking to do something inside with your kids when you actually want to be outside in the garden, starting plants on a sunny window sill is a fun activity.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.  Gardening is always an adventure.