Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What We did Last Weekend

This last Saturday was a fun one for our family. We were split up, both halves having a good time. First, the boys:

They were up at 5:30am and left by 6 to drive out to Carson Pass with a good friend of our family. Their plan was to hike to three different lakes and if they had the energy, to the top of Round Top Mountain at 10,381 feet. Here is Mr. Lego with Mr. R, their fearless guide.

Here they are at the first lake, Frog Lake.

Getting higher and higher...

After reaching the three lakes they decided to push on. Here you can see Lake Tahoe behind them in the distance.

After the final push to the top...

...the summit!

The whole hike took them 8 hours but they had a blast and loved the view.

Now for the girls: We had a not as strenuous a day, with a small ladies tea social planned. One of the moms had thought of a really neat service project; she went to the dollar store and bought all sorts of non-perishable snacks. The girls decorated paper lunch sacks with a Bible verse and picture, then filled the bags with tuna and crackers, raisins, cookies and juice boxes. These are meant to be kept in our car and the next time we see someone asking for money on the street corner, we can hand them the sack goodies.

The moms had a nice time working on our crocheting or knitting and having good conversations. Here is Bookworm and a friend knitting together.

It was a busy Saturday, but a productive one. Our Saturdays are usually not that busy, but I am glad that the boys had the opportunity to hike and that us girls could fellowship with our friends. What does your family enjoy doing on Saturdays?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Autumn Nature Walk

This last week two of the families in our co-op were gone, so the remaining mom and myself decided to take the kids on a nature walk. I try to follow a lot of principles in our homeschooling from Charlotte Mason and nature walks is one area that I have woefully neglected. So my friend introduced me to the Handbook of Nature Study, both the title of a book by Anna Comstock and the name of this blog. On the blog, a sweet lady named Barb has put together different challenges, based on the seasons and meant to take place in your own backyard. There are even free downloads of notebook pages for the children to complete and to help with the observation process. I am still exploring this site and am very excited by what I see!

Anyways, we all met at Magistra Amy's house, who had graciously put together our nature walk with the focus on cattails. After having our Circle Time, we drove 5 minutes to a small greenbelt area. Everyone started searching for the cattails.

The kids found them quickly; they were very close to the path and easy to walk up to for close observation.

We examined how soft they were, talked about them being edible, and basically let the kids explore the cattail patches.

Mr. Lego, thinking about taking a bite. (Actually it is the roots and stalk that are edible.)

The little ones were explorers too; it is amazing how kids are so curious. Here is Nutsy with an acorn.

And here is Nutsy's little friend with another seed.

My blog title as you noticed is Autumn Nature Walk; well this did happen the second day of fall, but it was about 95 degrees out that day. The moms survived with iced coffees from McD's while we had lots of water bottles for the kids. (There are privileges to being the teacher!) After our walk we headed back to Amy's house for a delicious pumpkin dessert. This was a really fun afternoon and inspired me to continue to try to take those nature walks, even if it is only in our backyard.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

4-H, Our New Adventure

Hi I am Mr. Lego. I am going to tell you about 4-H. We joined 4-H and went to the club meeting last week. At the club meeting, they talked about events and the different projects that they had. We decided to do the rabbit project and the beginning 4-H project. In the rabbit project we will learn about rabbits and then we will be buying a male and a female and then breed them in the Spring. We will have babies and then show them when they are 70 days old at the county fair. Tonight we are going to our other project, the beginner 4-h project. We will learn about record books and presentations and other fun stuff. We will have to do community service once this year and I think we will serve breakfast at the Grange. I am excited about the Grange breakfast and showing the rabbits at the fair.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Styrofoam Art

The other day the kids were looking a bit bored so I was trying to think of a craft to do. I had recently received a couple packages in the mail and spying the Styrofoam packaging, I was reminded of a craft we did last year at the Discovery Museum in San Jose. I never knew this, but water to Styrofoam is like glue to paper. So I stuck a big bowl of it on their school table, put a couple wet sponges on a plate, gave them each a piece of cardboard to anchor their creations on and then let them go to town with it.

Creative juices were flowing...

We did make one discovery; apparently there are different kinds of Styrofoam and water as glue only works with the white noodle kind. The pink ones with ridges would not stick, even with glue.

A finished masterpiece!

Here is Bookworms' Igloo:

The kids had a lot of fun with this, despite the fact that two-thirds of the Styrofoam we had was the pink kind. There was also a mess to clean up... you know, chasing the little bits of white stuff all over the kitchen with the broom; we finally resorted to the vacuum. Do any other moms out there have any fun (and simple!) craft ideas to share?

In other news, our first week of school went very smoothly; the kids are liking what they are studying, and I am realizing I need to brush up on my ancient history knowledge again. We had our first 4-H meeting (more on that later) and our first co-op of the year was so fun! You can read more about that here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Our Homeschooling Curriculum 2009

So our homeschooling year starts for us next Tuesday. I am doing some of the same things from last year and also making some curriculum changes. So here is my curriculum plans, for each child.

Mr. Lego & Bookworm

Bible - Balancing the Sword
Math - Math U See (at their individual levels)
History - Mystery of History Vol. 1
Vocabulary - Total Language Plus (TLP)
Spelling - TLP
Copywork/Dictation - TLP
Reading/Reading Comprehension - TLP
Grammar - Simply Grammar (at their individual levels)
Writing - Co-op assignments, journal writing, Story Starters


Bible - Balancing the Sword
Math - Math U See
History - Mystery of History Vol. 1
Phonics - The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
Writing/Spelling - Spell, Say, Write
Language - First Language Lessons


Bible - Balancing the Sword
History - Mystery of History Vol. 1
Preschool work - Rod & Staff ABC Series

We will also be learning some subjects in our weekly co-op:


Memorization (scripture and poetry)
Composers (Elgar, Williams, Grieg, Ravel)
Artists (Raphael, Sanzio, Sargent, Monet)
Art Instruction

To explain, I teach Bible and history to all 4 at the same time and just require more from the older ones. The two younger ones narrate and the older ones do a combination of paragraph writing and narration. Total Language Plus is a literature based curriculum which covers a lot of subjects (spelling, vocabulary, dictation, etc.) This year we are going to study the books 21 Balloons, The Bronze Bow and one other book that is still to be determined.

So my new curriculum this year is Mystery of History and Balancing the Sword. Last year we finished going through all of history, beginning with creation and ending with the Persian Gulf War, which took us 5 years. So now we are starting all over again, with a highly recommended, fun filled history curriculum. Balancing the Sword will take us through the Bible, a chapter at a time, with questions and points to discuss.

I would love to hear what my homeschooling friends are going to be doing this year as well!