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30 April 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Roadschool

We tried a little roadschool this week. The result was not too shabby. We didn't get quite as much done as we do weeks we're home, but with two days spent driving, two days in a hotel, and the whole family coming down with a cold, it's to be expected. We'll do a little clean-up tomorrow. We got the basics covered. Plus, we went swimming in the hotel pool. What's not to love?

My boy is still hero crazed. Last week, he was pretty consistently some member of the Super Friends. Typically either Superman or Batman, but sometimes Flash or Aquaman. Raven gets to be Batman (not Batbaby), Robin (when Monkey is Batman), or sometimes Aquaman. You should have seen Monkey grin when Daddy got his Superman shirt out! Heroes all around; just the way that Monkey likes it! This week, he switched things up a bit and was Ang, of Avitar. We've had quite a lot of "air-bending" going on around here.

This was actually last week, but it's too awesome not to share. Monkey is loving all this learning about owls. We've been watching a nest cam regularly, spying on a pair of Barn Owls: Wing and Beau. We've seen egg laying, incubating, sleeping, preening, and eating. Monkey no longer tells me I'm his pet puffin, now I'm his owl. This particular day, he was also an owl, and he was bringing me dinner. Which I obligingly tore to pieces with my talons and ate with gusto. Gotta love it!

29 April 2011

Play With Your Food

I keep hearing that you're not supposed to play with your food, but it's just so much fun! We've done a lot of playing with our food lately.
When they were in the planning stage, these were going to be beetles. I was a little concerned that Monkey was going to want dung beetles (gross!), but when it was time to pick a bug, he went to a nice dragonfly. I've since discovered a tutorial video, and I'm anxious to try fancy pancakes again, since I'm certain I can do better now that I know what tools to use. I used peanut butter & chocolate to color the bug parts, and there were no complaints!

Since we learned about puffins, Monkey keeps telling me I'm his "pet puffin." And Raven is my "baby puffin." I reasoned that puffins eat fish, so I'd better be feeding the family "puffin food." Monkey wasn't so sure what he'd gotten himself into at first, but he loved helping make the fish and asked for more "puffin food' the next day. There wasn't any leftovers, so we made another batch. Only by that time we were studying owls, and I wanted an owl cookie cutter. The only one I could find was in a set of 50 animal cookie cutters... yeah, I've got quite the collection of cookie cutters now. The good news is, this cute bread is easy! It's pizza dough, rolled out and cut with a cookie cutter, then baked about 10 minutes at 450F. When it's done we "paint" it with some garlic butter. Sometimes there's parmesan cheese in the garlic butter. Yum!
And we also fed Raven spaghetti. He had a good time. I'm really not sure much went in the baby, but he had a good time. And devoured a fish bread. That kid loves his bread. Smart boy!

28 April 2011

Postcrossing: Finland

We've got a whole bunch of postcards in the past little while. Enough that I don't think we'll be doing them all, and certainly not all right at once. But Monkey says he enjoys learning a little bit about where they all come from, so we'll be working on catching up here in the next while. Tonight, it's Finland.

24 April 2011

He is Risen!

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

23 April 2011

Links and Links

I've run across a number of really inspiring posts on homeschool blogs lately. Here's a few of my favorites:

Burying the Big Yellow Bus - a mom talks about her fears as she's homeschooled for the past 11 years, and how they've turned out to be completely unfounded.

Don’t we all wonder, every now and then, if they are missing out on

Jamie took a good long look at herself and shared some beautiful thoughts about the Lord and growing as a woman in Moment by Moment.

Sometimes I love the insights God shows me. But other times? Not so much.

I picked up some good ideas from the brand new edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling too. For instance, a marble math game that I think we'll be playing here soon. The Read-aloud Dad recommends the Horrible History series... and I think that might be right up Monkey's alley. He sure liked learning about those bugs, anyway!

And, since we're studying birds, I thought that it might be useful for me to have a look at All About Birds' Bird Identification Tutorial. My favorite method of bird identification is to get a picture and have a leisurely look at my field guide. But perhaps I can learn enough that there will be other ways of identifying new species. There are certainly enough for me to practice on; I don't know that many yet!

Then there's this clever Scripture Cookies recipe. Monkey may be a tad young, but it looks like so much fun we may try it anyway.

22 April 2011

Fancy Pancakes

My sister showed me Jim's Pancakes, and I've been wanting to do something cool like that ever since, but was having a hard time with figuring out how to go about doing it; my usual spoon technique wasn't working. Jim kindly makes videos, and now I have some good ideas.

20 April 2011

Barn Owls

We're doing Barn Owls today, and the nest cams don't disappoint! We watched this from when the mama, Wings, laid her egg, and we peeked at the baby, taking a nap in the nest box (12:30pm). We'll check back later this evening and tonight to see if there is more activity when the baby is awake.

Here's the clip of Wings laying an egg.

This one was interesting to me, but I ended up explaining a lot of the vocabulary: nocturnal, foraging, suburban, and asymmetrical, for example. But Monkey seemed to enjoy it, even with that.

Today's narration:

Barn Owls hunt at night and take a nap at day. They live in boxes or old homes that no people want. One ear is lower and one is higher, so then they can hear better for animal sounds and rat sounds. It's slow when they push out an egg. Her head can move all the way around without moving her body. They claw rats, mice, and bunny rabbits with their talons.

19 April 2011

Awesome Owls

Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Monkey is very interested in birds right now, and, not surprisingly, when we were talking about what animals he might like to learn about, he requested birds. This week, we're learning about owls. It was going to be Bald Eagles, but Monkey requested owls, so we'll go where his interest leads! We found some pretty cool resources. I picked up this book on raptors a few weeks ago at Half Price Books (love that place). This strikes me as just the sort of "living book" Charlotte Mason would have approved of whole-heartedly. The introduction had him riveted:

Imagine you are a small animal, minding your own business, scurrying low to the ground, going about your day. Suddenly, you sense that something is watching you. You look around, but you don't see anything. Scary, isn't it?

Now imagine that whatever is hunting you has amazing powers. If you hide in the dark, it will find you, because its hearing is so good that it can hear your heart beating. Its eyes are so sharp that even when you can't see it, it can still see you. If you run, it will swoop out of the air, seizing you with talons... (page viii)

We turned to the section about owls and he chose one: the Eastern Screech Owl. Little House in the Big Woods has a story about a screech owl that we read a few days ago, and I suspect that had something to do with why he chose this one. They're pretty interesting little birds. We also listened to their call on All About Birds, and watched a clip from the nestcam at Cornell's Lab of Ornithology. They've got a couple nest cams that are still live, one of them a Barn Owl, so I'm thinking we'll have to do Barn Owls later this week.

This was his narration for today:

Eastern Screech-Owls don't screech at all. They look like tree-stumps, and they have glowing yellow eyes. They can see you even in you can't see them. They eat bunny rabbits and mice and frogs.

18 April 2011

Classical Homeschooling Carnival #16

How exciting! This is easily the largest edition of the Classical Homeschooling Carnival yet, and I think you're going to love what people have to share with us this time! For the first time ever, there are enough posts to break it up into categories. Have a look:
I've seen a lot of thought going into planning next year as I've wandered around the homeschool blogs and message boards recently. Here are some of our contributor's thoughts on the matter:

Miss MOE, over at Homeschooling While Living the Life of Easier, gives us some words of wisdom on planning your own curriculum. She uses her history curriculum as an example, and includes specific resources she's using for her family.

Lisa, of Golden Grasses, shares some thoughts on Planning and Pedagogy - that is, "the art and science of teaching."

And Jamie, of See Jamie Blog, shares her reflections on last year, including a few Homeschool Goals NOT Accomplished. She points out that sometimes it's useful to look at why things didn't happen, and go forward from there.

Classical homeschooling means careful attention to core academics, and Amy is taking care of that, reading about Ancient Greece with her children at Hope is in the Word. She mentions that she didn't really study world history much in school, in spite of AP classes, and tells how much she enjoys doing it with her children now.

I know how she feels; I didn't ever study world history either. As a result, I'm very much enjoying learning about ancient history myself, and shared what I learned about Queen Puabi of Ur here on Baby Steps.

Pamela is taking her history lessons on the road at Blah, Blah, Blog, where they recently visited the Casa Grande Ruins in Arizona. Those ruins look fascinating!

Kristiana, author of La Scoula d' Argento, shares their family's memory work system and progress in Memory Work Monday. She uses a clever variant of the Simply Charlotte Mason scripture memory system that we've used and loved in our home for years.

Glory, blogging over at Self Reliance Works, shares the easiest, cheapest, most effective way to teach spelling. Her system uses materials most of us have on hand.

At Satori Smiles, Angela share their geography studies, where her daughter enjoys Mapping Freehand. I'm so impressed that someone so small can draw the map so well!
A Classical education also values the arts and other fun things, and our submissions for this carnival reflect that. For instance, Nadene shares her daughter's sweet Maybe List of Things to Do With Mom at Practical Pages.

Pamela, with a second post on Blah, Blah, Blog, shares her new games they've been playing in SET with New Games.

And, finally, Amy shares a selection of books about ballet in 10 Children's Books About Dance on Delightful Children's Books.

That's it - but it's a lovely collection of posts. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did, and that you'll be back for future editions of the Classical Homeschooling Carnival! Submit your blog article to the next edition of classical homeschooling carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

16 April 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: When Daddy Comes Home!

The biggest news this week is that Daddy came home from a three-week business trip! We are supper excited to have him back! He got in about 2am Thursday. Monkey got his first kite this week, so one of the first things we did Thursday morning was go try out the kite. Kites are trickier than the look, and everyone had some battle scars by the time we were done, but we got it into the air!

We passed the time Wednesday, waiting for Daddy to come back, at the children's museum. In the past we've spent hours at the firetruck. This time, Monkey passed it without a second glance and we tried out a whole bunch of new areas. My favorite was when he was doctoring the baby. Raven enjoyed checking out the pilot's hats while Monkey spent a good long time driving the plane. At one point, Monkey said we were flying to Taiwan (We got a postcard from there recently). The little boy next to him announced that after that we were going to Tai-two, which made me chuckle.

We've been learning about dung beetles. Glamorous, I know. Notice the shovel-shaped head. Lovely, isn't it? It all started out with Cardinals. Cute, cuddly, and right here in our own back yard. But cardinals have babies, and although the parents eat mostly seeds, apparently the nestlings need something with a little more wiggle to it. So that was exciting. And the dung beetles are pretty interesting. And now Monkey has a page of bug pictures that he wanted to hang on his bedroom door, rather than throw them away when we were finished coloring our bugs. Eww.. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

It was a big week in phonics: Monkey finished the first set of Bob Books! I told him last week that I'd get him a Super Friends book if he'd read them all to me. He finished off those Bob Books on Friday evening. Those last couple were hard work, but he wanted that Super Friends book! I'll probably have him practice on these from this first set for a little while longer before I get him set #2.

Math is going OK. I'm still deciding if we've got a good pace as we move through the math book. I still am stressing a bit about our pace, but it seems to be somewhat better this week. Sometimes, he's so busy pretending that it can be hard to get a good grip on how he's doing. Is it too easy? Frustrating? This time I grabbed dimes and pennies for him to graph with, but unbeknownst to me, they turned into turtle eggs which had to be sat on and hatched... It was a novel way to do math, for sure! He still does the common reversals: p, b, and d, and also 6 and 9, but I'm told that sort of thing will work itself out most of the time, so I'm not terribly worried. And the work we did this week was a good chance to practice the difference between 6 and 9.

We headed back to the same park as last week, looking for changes. One big one was that the pond had melted. Last week he lay on his belly breaking ice for quite a while; this week he was splashing and squelching in the mud. Another change was all the birds. We were particularly interested in the cardinals, as they were a topic of study, and we had listened to their call, so I was hoping he would hear it while we were out. I'm not sure if that worked or not, so we'll likely listen to the recordings again. We saw robins (a sign of spring), red-wing blackbirds, black-capped chickadees, cardinals, a mallard pair, and some canadian geese. Poor guy; Monkey kept running after the birds, wanting to "make friends with them," and he was so dejected when they flew away.

12 April 2011

Baby Cardinal Food

We learned today that although Cardinals themselves eat mostly seeds, their babies like bugs best. We got pictures of a cicada, beetles, a centipede, and a cricket from this site. I pasted them into Word and printed them all out on a single page for coloring. We also did the cardinal coloring/narration page from the Cornell birds packet (page 30). And, best of all, our cardinal pair came back to our feeder today. It's been quite some time since they visited us!

And we watched a few clips because I'm a big wuss about bugs and have *zero* desire to go find the critters in person. Flipping through our Eyewitness: Insects book sort of stresses me out. All those big beautiful illustrations. Pictures of bugs.



This one's cool: the bug sounds like a wind-up toy!

Did you know that cicadas suck on trees? Then they squirt. Frequently. Cool, in a repulsive sort of way.

I couldn't find anything on your average garden centipede, but check this out! That thing's a foot long! I'm guessing that cardinals don't eat this type of bug.

And here's a few on Cardinals, just to keep that last one from giving anyone nightmares!


10 April 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Two Weeks Long

We spent a long weekend at Grandpa & Nana's house last weekend, so I didn't get my wrap-up post up. Instead, we hung out with family, baked goodies, and watched the Church's General Conference. When we were packing up to come home Sunday night my Dad said he wished the weekend was longer, and I agreed. But it was a lovely weekend while it lasted.

But Grandpa and Nana had to go back to work and all the kids had to go back to school, so we came home again and got back to work ourselves. Happily, much of our work is very enjoyable!

I realized that Monkey is not being challenged anymore in our math, so I completely reworked the schedule to really pick up the pace. The plan is to move into some more challenging stuff in the next little while. He loves doing the work; it's pleasantly play-like. But I need to get him to a place where it's requires a little bit of effort. I feel like I'm floundering around a bit, but he's having fun and loves math - it's one of his favorites.

We finished up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, tried a chapter each of The Incredible Journey and The Prince and the Pauper, before settling in for some more Laura Ingalls Wilder with Little House in the Big Woods. Selecting a read-aloud that fits nicely is still one of the most difficult things. I think after we finish this one we'll go on to Farmer Boy. Hopefully by then I'll have a clue as to what should come next.

We only did one science project this time because, oddly enough, I had a hard time finding the regular food coloring that comes in those drop-shaped bottles. I was out of red, and a color-mixing activity without one of the primary colors seemed a little pointless. We were going to do it over the weekend with Nana, but forgot. But what a success when we finally got it all together! I think he spent more than an hour doing this, and when he saw me do the collage for the blog post he asked to do it again. Works for me!

We also learned about puffins. It hadn't really registered that puffins are predators - they eat little fish - until Monkey announced that they're fierce birds. Not sure I agree with his assessment, but I can understand why he'd say it. In addition to the two clips on the puffins post, we also watched this, which I thought was fascinating for the way that they "fly" underwater. I was also very pleased with Monkey's narrations. I asked him some leading questions, but otherwise, these are his words:

For Red-tailed Hawks (last week):

Red-tailed hawks are fierce, and rip the animals open to eat them. The babies make a "tik-tik-tik" sound. The mama red-tail hawks and the baby red-tail hawks, they are a family.

A bird of prey is a bird that claws other animals. It holds the animal and takes it to his baby. Their beaks are hooked because they are predators.

And for puffins (this week):

There are three kinds of puffins: Atlantic Puffins, Horned Puffins, and Tufted Puffins. They have their nests in holes, and when they are not living there they use the water as their home. They dive for food. They use their wings to drive under water and they let bubbles out behind.

Phonics is moving forward. In addition to CVC words, we're adding some 2 consonant endings: -ll, -ss, -st, things like that, and he's doing well. Blending is getting noticeably smoother, which is exciting. And, probably most exciting of all, we're back to reading the Bob Books! I told Monkey when he's read me all 12 of the little Bob Books I'd get him a Super Friends book. He thinks that's worth working for. We're both happy.

First Language Lessons is, mostly, a breeze, though the difference between common and proper nouns is tricky. We did four lessons last week and four lessons this week. The memory work is fun, and coming right along as well.

We also had some very successful nature study this week - our first trip to the park this spring, and then later in the week one of my friends brought her baby chicks over and we played with them. Those both deserve a post of their own, there's so many fun pictures. I'll leave you with this one of Raven as a teaser:

09 April 2011

Links and More Links

Barb has a great list of bird stuff. I downloaded bird notebooking pages and the feeder birds coloring book. Monkey loves birds, and I think this will be a great addition to the work we're doing with birds right now. Seeing as he's so interested, I'm seriously considering making our 6 weeks of birds into more birds than that. I'll have to ask him and see what he says.

Kate linked to this great article. She loved this line: "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." I love this other one: "Devoting yourself to something means shutting out other things." I find shutting out the other things to be painful: all those might-have-beens. So then I try to do everything, and I wear myself to a nub, drive my husband crazy, and... don't do any of them well. I've been thinking lately that I'm going to have to let some of my hobbies go in order to do a good job with this whole homeschooling thing. That's hard. But it's priorities. Desires guide priorities, and priorities guide choice, and that becomes my life. To create a priority (I'm going to homeschool my boys and do the very best job I can possibly do at it) means to shut out other things (I will never be a concert pianist, though I once dreamed that dream). And that's OK. Right, even.

The Dread Pirate Grasshopper Has His First Epiphany: The Equuschick on Justice and Mercy. I love reading her stuff, and this one is particularly good.

An unusual angle on the whole socialization thing.

04 April 2011


We're learning about Puffins this week. We read in the Kinfisher Animal Encyclopedia about them, found the oceans they live in on our globe, colored a picture, and later this week we'll read a book we've got about them We also watched a couple of videos.

01 April 2011

General Conference Activities

I love Conference! But figuring out how to help a munchkin not only sit for that long, but hopefully enjoy the process is sometimes a tough job. Here are some of the resources I found this time:

We've used Sugardoodle in the past, and they didn't disappoint this time: they have a whole list of activity packets for children, youth, and adults.

Oopsey Daisy has a nice packet. She's also got some fun ideas for munchkins that are younger, including a bingo game. Monkey's right on the line, so we'll probably do some from both sets.

Crane Corner has some great ideas for getting ready for General Conference in the Family Home Evenings that lead up to it. It's too late for us to do this for the current conference, but I think I may borrow from her idea for next conference!

Monkey's too young, but I really like Cocoa's idea for post-it note note-taking.


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