Homeschool Mornings

Well we pulled out of traditional school four years ago and have been homeschooling since. I’m still amazed at how peaceful homeschool mornings are compared to the chaos we used to call “normal” back in our traditional school days.

On this particular morning, my son really wanted to start his lessons before anyone else was up, dressed, fed and ready for the day.

As I sip my morning tea (side note: my husband is awesome and brings me a cup of tea in bed every morning! Thanks honey!) my son brought his “explode the code” work book, the teacher’s guide and his pencil to my bedside. Who am I to stop educational pursuit! Haha!

There I was sipping my tea and giving language lessons from bed as he happily did his work.

image

When his sister woke up, she thought life needs to be fair; therefore, she wanted her explode the code lessons on mama’s bed too!

image

We knocked out language lessons in our jim jams on mama’s bed in such a loving and peaceful way, with none of the rush we felt on traditional school days.

Chilling with my kiddos, sipping tea, answering the occasional question, etc. Eventually, we did get up, but when we were good-n-ready.

Four years later and it still impresses me! And I wonder how and why parents still run around in that crazy rush hour morning mess, when life can be so peaceful…

Learning on a Weekend?!?!

image

Here is the best part of homeschooling. The kids learn new things everyday…even on the weekend!…and even with old toys they thought they had mastered!

image

This entire weekend has been snap circuit crazy. We own several of these kits, so that means over a thousand small bits and pieces scattered all over the place in the name of educational play!

image

If you go to http://www.amazon.com and do a search for “Elenco snap circuits” you will find several choices from small beginner kits, Eco friendly kits to massively sized kits. Have fun!

 

Guinea Fowl Update

I decided to just go for it…put Shizzle and MaNizzle in the chicken coop and see what happened….

….in a nutshell they have been living together for a few days now. I wouldn’t say it is a lovely coexistence, but I do not have any complaints yet. So far the two species are sharing the same space. They contentedly ignore one another, they have a respectful fear of one another and they seem to allow one another access to all areas of the coop/run, so far…

image

I say so far, because sometimes a few days isn’t enough time to really know if they are settled. We should know more in a week or so is my guess.

Last night was the first night the guinea fowl went into the coop with the chickens at night on their own. So that was hopeful. Today was the first day they free ranged together, so we shall see how bedtime goes later tonight.

In the very near future the chicks will be released from their smaller coop (triangles shaped coop within the big chicken run) and that will be another adventure in bird integration. Fingers crossed! Knocking on wood! Prayers said! Positive vibes sent out into the cosmos!…that all goes super de duper great!!!

Guinea Fowl Adventures

Well a little over a week ago we had 17 guinea fowl.

We went on vacation and came home to 9 guinea fowl.

Woke up the next day and found we had 5 guinea fowl?

Woke up this morning to 2 guinea fowl!

Mind you these birds are virtually wild and free to roam on several acres of land.

Clearly we are feeding the predator population a free meal!

So today the kids and I went on a “save the last two guinea” hunt.

After a lot of herding, chasing, and failed attempts to capture, we caught one!

Then a neighbor joined in the efforts.

More herding, chasing, failed attempts to capture, then we caught the other one.

So what do you do with two guinea fowl that have no clear coop or home to go to that is safe? Clearly you put them in the spare bathroom shower…right? Isn’t that what anyone would do? Haha!

image
After spending the day in the shower, they felt that was enough! I heard a horrific crash and went to see what took place in the bathroom…

…apparently they wanted a bit more space to roam!

image

Which means I need to find a solution to these birds ASAP!

Now that the kids have named the last two survivors (Shizzle and MaNizzle) we obviously must make arrangements to have these two live in peace and happily ever after! (Fingers crossed, ideally they will get along with the chickens!)

Not So LIFE Science

We are raising Guinea Fowl and aside from their amazing smell, they are really cool birds!

Perfect solution for an organic gardener’s pest problem. They love bugs and will delicately pluck them off your plants without destroying the plants (according to all the info we’ve read up on)

We are hoping they will keep the vineyard tick and bug free once they are released from their current run.

Unfortunately, last night some sort of predator found them and made an attempt at capture. It didn’t get much of a meal (the head and one wing) but it was a free meal, so I’m sure it will be back again soon.

We are making some adjustments to the run today, in hopes of keeping the rest of the flock safe!

However, since the predator did leave the bulk of the bird, I found this to be a perfect opportunity to dissect a bird and learn about its organs.

It’s a weekend, we are in our PJs and our laboratory is the tailgate of a truck.

image

Nothing like a typical classroom.

This is one of many reasons homeschooling so great!

The love of learning takes place anywhere and anytime.

So beware graphic photos are coming…if you are squeamish,

you might want to take my word for it…it was FASCINATING!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

image

Unfortunate end to a lovely creature!

image

First we removed the remaining wing and legs.

The kids were noticing how the ball and socket joint was similar to Transformers and Bionicle Toys.

They are certain the designers of those toys must have copied nature’s design.

Good opportunity to discuss other ways nature plays a role in modern technology designs.

image

After flipping the breast-plate out-of-the-way, we were able to see the heart and either the liver or lungs clearly. (Did not have time to plan this dissection, so we are researching after the fact using our photos.)

image

My daughter was very interested in the heart.

image

We cut it in half to see the various chambers…

(we will learn more about atriums, ventricles, valves, etc next week)

image

…and arteries.

image

Then we started dissecting the digestion process.

We aren’t 100% sure yet what each of these parts are named.
The kids have a research assignment for next week to solve these mysteries.

image

The part my daughter is touching is a VERY HARD THICK muscle!

Clearly used to help the inner stones crush up and break down the food.

image

After cutting parts off, we discovered the left and right sides were THICK SOLID muscle masses

and the center was where food and small stones were being ground up.

image

After digging all the stony bits of food out, we cut it open to find the THICK STRONG muscle was lined

with an EXTREMELY THICK membrane that clearly played an important role in processing the food.

image

On to the intestines!

image

Aside from the occasional “ha ha you touched the pooper tube” joke, they were fascinated with the way

the different tangled systems were combining into one tube.

image

Seeing how delicately the blood vessels were attached,

yet how strong the very thin membrane was holding them together was a moment of awe!

image

It was also interesting to see the ribs attached…

….and we aren’t sure yet (research is in their near future) what the red bloody spongy tissue is covering the ribs.

We are guessing it has something to do with the respiratory system.

Science lessons will be fun next week!

We took WAY MORE photos then these, so we have LOTS of research in our future!

Mom will be learning along side the kids!

Other great aspects of homeschooling;

mama learns as well and you can be flexible in your plans to add research projects like this.

 

Life Science

We recently had to rehome of our rooster “Storm” because he was a bit too good at being a rooster. He protected his ladies too well and attacked the kids when they were collecting eggs. We were very sad about this and tried to remedy to situation, but sadly we weren’t successful.

image

We took Storm back to the breeder and swapped him for Frosty, our new rooster.

image

 

Long story short, we wanted some of Storm’s babies, so into the incubator went some of the eggs fertilized by him.

21 days later we had the best science experiment ever…getting to see life emerge.

image

These chicks were half blue orpington (Storm) and half Easter egger (Mama)

26 days later we opened up the unhatched eggs. Mostly we found icky yokes that never really took…

image

…but then we discovered two chicks that were well on their way. It was sad for the kiddos and they wanted to bury the chicks.

image

You can see one dyed before it’s yoke sack was absorbed into it’s abdominal cavity…but the other chick was ready to hatch and never pipped or unzipped for some unknown to us reason.

It was a good science lesson on how delicate life is.

The kids decided they needed to bury the chicks at the base of a tree, so they can climb up to the top and learn to fly. And because according to my daughter it takes a year to get to heaven and well the flight journey there is a long way. She’s pretty sure heaven is on a planet not discovered by humans yet.

image

Each one decided to add some sort of token for their journey before we buried the little peepers.

image

Then we came inside to celebrate the life of 8 baby chicks that did hatch.

image

Could we be lucky enough to have 8 HENS??? Lol…against the odds, but we are hoping for all hens! Frosty (our roo) doesn’t need any competition. 🙂

It would be nice to add some more grey/blue to our colorful flock.

image

Ideally I’d love for the flock to have a plethora of colors and variations. I think when we incubate some of Frosty’s offspring we will get to add even more variety. 🙂

Homeschool Science Rocks…it’s hands on thru the entire process!

Beautiful Butterflies!

image

If you have the chance to watch butterflies develop I highly suggest it.

In spring we order caterpillars from Insect Lore’s website

(http://www.insectlore.com/cup-of-caterpillars)

And then set the butterflies free after a couple of days of observations.

Through books and hands on experiences, the kids have learned all about the butterfly life cycle.

They also have learned to be very gentle with butterflies.

image

And maybe the butterflies know my kids are gentle or maybe it is their bright clothing, but for whatever reason, butterflies seem to land on and allow my kids to hold them often.

image

Here are some great supplies to consider if you are interested in learning more about and raising your own butterflies:

Glass Blowing Is Amazing!

 

image

Recently we had a rare opportunity to watch a glass blower create amazing artwork. Saul (the glass blowing artist) and his wife Gina were both really kind gentle people who took the time to share this incredible craft with our kids.

image

He showed the kids all his supplies, how he makes the various colors, how to add colors to the clear glass, showing us all the tools and ovens used to make his creations. (Which are VERY HOT! 2000+ degrees hot!) He also crafted a gorgeous vase for the kid’s demonstration so they could see a ball of scalding hot goo turn into a masterpiece before their very eyes from start to finish.

image

image

Saul is very humorous and entertaining for both the children and adults alike. His demonstration was so captivating, my wiggly giggly kiddos were frozen like statues watching, learning and sucking in every aspect of glass blowing like little sponges. They enjoyed every second of the experience and were in complete awe!

image

When he was finished with his demonstration, he took the time to let the kids create a piece of glass work themselves. He was very patient. Words can not describe how great he was with the kids. He is exactly what you would want in a mentor. My son was actually terrified at first of being burnt, but Saul was so good with my son; he was able to conquer his fears and create his bird.

image

image

image

Both of my kiddos chose to make birds. They were able to pick their colors, manipulate the glass goo ball, use his tools and literally create their very own piece of art.

image

image

In this mother’s opinion, these two birds are priceless!

image

As a home schooler, I was thrilled to find out Saul and his wife Gina home schooled their children who are now in college.

If you have the opportunity to see glass blowing I highly recommend it.

Do Homeschool Kids Miss Out?

Each year we have an annual homeschool cupcake decorating valentines day party. This year valentines day happen to land on a public school holiday (Presidents day) so we were able to invite both our homeschooled and public schooled friends which was a special treat.

We had about fifty people here enjoying themselves. And once again, I look around to find a bunch of kids that are very well socialized and have lots of friends. (Mythbuster #1 – homeschool kids have friends and are socialized!)

image

Kids were having a blast all over the place, jumping on the trampoline, zipping down the zip line, climbing trees, digging giant holes in the hillside (apparently just a few foxholes and trenches incase we reenact the war during history lessons, haha!) and decorating cupcakes. It is always such fun to see kids being kids and having a ball!

image

It is also great to see so many school kids and homeschool kids getting along. (Mythbuster #2 – that homeschool kids and school kids can’t get along.) They all cooperated and worked well together toward similar goals.

image

There were lots of various ages ranging from 2-12 and all the kids seemed helpful and able to get along with their peers, which beats yet another myth…(Mythbuster #3 – who’s a peer? same age? same interest? same capabilities? or someone you just like hanging out with regardless of differences?)

image

So as I look around and see an amazing group of kids that are very well socialized busting more homeschool myths I feel happy to know we are a part of it all. I love knowing with time the homeschoolers will show the world just how fantastic they are!

I hope anyone that is considering homeschooling understands that the lifestyle of a homeschooler is not some foreign weirdo world. Your lifestyle is up to you. Homeschooling puts the control back into your hands. Your family, home, life is once again yours.

And the answer is NO…homeschool kids do NOT miss out on anything! They have lots to celebrate!

Tech Time Plan Update

So often you get a great idea but a week later it fizzles…well I’m here to update you all on our TECH TIME CHART. It is still going strong and the kids are still loving it!

There have been a few alterations over time, but the general idea has stayed the same. Kids earn tech time during the week and spend it on the weekends. It is in their control, they decide how much they want to earn, how they want to spend it, etc…

image

Here is a copy of our weekly log.

You can see listed two types of “school work” one is for every hour of HAPPY school work accomplished (no complaints, eager and efficient, etc) and another for minor complaint that slips out. They can earn 30 minutes per hour…but if they have minor complaints it bumps down to 10 minutes per hour and if they are unpleasant during our school work they get zero, zip, nothing, nada. Haha! Mean old mom doesn’t want to hear any complaints!

I also leave a category for BONUS TIME because some days they are just really cool kids and do some really cool amazing things that deserve a little extra bonus. Gotta save room for positive reinforcement. 🙂

Each spread sheet would obviously have your own personal tasks that applies to your family.

I tally up the tasks at the end of each day. Then on Friday evening before bed, I give the kids their grand total and they can start dreaming of how they will spend it on Saturday and Sunday. And I can start dreaming about sleeping in.

For example: if one earns two hours and twenty minutes for the week, I give it to them like this:

image

And they cross off as they spend it. My kids found it more enjoyable to have it broken down into ten minute increments.

Most TV episodes are twenty minutes (no commercials). If they watch an episode they cross off two tens…and they also are looking to see how long TV shows are before choosing them. (becoming more aware of how much time they are spending in front of the boob tube!)

They seem to use ten minutes and then go play outside for a while, come back in and spend ten more. It seems they are getting very serious and learning time management this way.

They like being in charge of their time and they don’t like to waste their time. (funny how that works when it’s THEIR time) I like seeing them work it all out in such a responsible way. It is fun to listen to them talk about how they will manage/budget their time over the weekend. It’s really cute!

And this plan does still allow for a midweek movie or ipad time “gifted” to them by mom or dad. The rules are clear, they can NOT ask during the week for tech time, if they do the answer is NO. If I feel like giving them tech time that is my choice and they can choose to take it or leave it.

Anyone that is having the tech time battles with their kiddos, give this plan a try. It’s worked wonders for our tech time discussions! ha ha!