Kids and E-mail

I have set up email accounts for my kids…only our family has the addresses…for now….they will branch out in due time.

I send them video clips and links to educational apps or games to discover. Example: a specific link to a video clip on “thekidshouldseethis.com” web site..then ask questions about the video, so they reply, get practice in reading, typing, emailing, etc…but in the relative safety of our family.

I also send them links to various apps to download and explore and tell me about the game or info they discovered. They had a lot of fun with a stop motion app. They created lots of stop motion videos with their stuffed animals.

I emailed the new electronic drum manual’s PDF file to my son and told him to read it by Wednesday. He replied on Tuesday letting me know he was finished. He also let me know he learned a bunch of cool things his new drum set can do.

Recently I allowed them to download a trivia game which we play together, against one another. Again only family, so no playing online with strangers. And the trivia questions are history, science, art, geography, etc…it is fun to see how much they know! And it’s good for them to “wait their turn” on a game that can take days to finish.

Turtle diary web site has educational games. I will send them links to these games and ask them to reply to me with their score.

I downloaded the natural reader app, and showed them how to link a web site to the audio natural reader, allowing me to send them links to pages of information they can listen to as some of the scientific words are too advanced for their reading level at this time…and then we discuss the information via email.

The kids love it!

They typically crawl into bed next to me and put on headphones and check their emails, which is great because I still need a bit of quiet time and they are waking up earlier now! (I just need to train them to make me a cup of tea, since the cup my husband brings me before leaving for work is typically gone by this time! Haha”)

All of this is IMHO, teaching them to navigate a world in which they will inevitably have to work in someday. It is encouraging them to explore educational information and discuss it with me. It’s encouraging better typing, spelling, reading, etc…and what I love best, is seeing their wheels turn, they are thinking about what they are learning, putting pieces together, finding humor, facts and safe solid life skills.

I got an email from my daughter out of the blue, asking if we can go to a specific church she wanted to know more about (where her Girl Scout meetings are held) and one from my son out of the blue asking if we can have one on one time and go to get frozen yogurt together.

This morning I got an email from my son explaining how smart the atoms are in H2O because no matter what, they know what they are supposed to do…I replied, and you are a bundle of atoms that knows exactly what you should be doing….and he replied with a bunch of laughing smilies and said, you’re funny mom! Hahahahahahaha!

These interactions are priceless! And I vote instead of fearing the Internet and technology, teach the kids what to do, how to do it, what not to do, what to avoid, why, etc…we limit tech time each day and now a large portion of their screen time is educationally productive! They aren’t spending their time “killing bosses” they are instead watching educational clips and interacting with one another.

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…

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!)

Update On Us

We homeschool year round, but I have the summer off to some degree. My kids have planned it all out and will be dictating their routines for the most part. A few things are mandatory they must stick in here and there, drum lessons, horse riding lessons, piano lessons, volunteer work, etc…and they have decided to have specific days. ie: Monday is math day, Tuesday is history day, and so on…they plan to make their tv shows, iPad apps, board games, outdoor play, kitchen experiments, etc revolve around the theme of the day. Example, today is spanish day, so they will switch the language to spanish on the DVDs they watch and instead of their go to Pig Latin kid talk, they will attempt to speak spanish when possible, etc…

I do feel like I need to give an update since it’s been a LONG while since I’ve shared what were up to.

A while back I decided to do an experiment and give the kids what we called a “FREE WEEK”…

…in a nutshell, the kids were responsible for their sleeping times, eating times, food choices, entertainment and education. In a very free willy nilly sort of way. I was here to help them when they asked but overall they were in charge of themselves. I deleted everything from the calendar for a week. (Including canceling lessons they did not want to attend)

The point for me was to get a good idea of what they were capable of, how they handled their choices, where they still needed me to guide them, where they were more self sufficent, etc…

I do think much longer then a week is needed for a true assessment. Because a week does feel in some way like a holiday rather then a time to put on your boots and get to work.

I discovered (and more importantly THEY discovered) there were still many areas mom was very needed! Which is a good thing IMHO!

They were very curious why no friends came over to play. I asked them if they arranged any play dates. Hmmm might be the reason. Planning is needed to make things happen. Good lesson for them to learn.

Why they don’t have any clean pants. I asked if they did their laundry? Hmmmm must wash clothes in order to have clean clothes. Another good lesson…but mostly they just realized mom does the laundry and didn’t this week, so they opted to wear alternative outfits over the favorites until mom washed again. (Which spurred mom to buy separate laundry baskets for each child and unknown to them, they are slowly learning to take over their own laundry washing, drying, folding and putting away! Darn sneaky mom!)

Aside from a few really good learning opportunities/discussions. And great examples of what could be handled better, it was a blissful week for ALL of us.

We all were doing exactly what we wanted all day long for an entire week! Yes I did not hear one single bicker from the kids. They were so happy doing their own thing. I accomplished a ton because they didn’t demand as much of my attention as they normally do.

HOWEVER the amount of Minecraft they played was insane for my liking. (I fondly refer to Minecraft as Mindcrap, even though I know there are lots of great learning opportunities around the game…it’s the intensity of time suck I don’t like)

Since it was free week, I figured eventually my son would have his fill, get a neck cramp, something and stop playing…nope, he played the entire week nearly all day every day! My daughter would stop mid day and go do something else, but come back to it in the evening.

They did build some amazing structures, learned a bunch from tutorials online, took on challenges and played well in each others worlds. But like I said the intensity of the Minecraft take over was not a long term OK thing with me, so we had a little Minecraft detox the following week. We are now back on a healthy level of video games from mama’s perspective.

Aside from free week, we’ve had horse riding adventures, rock climbing adventures, and a bunch if fun with friends. Spring time always sheds away the winter chill and gets us outside and active.

image

I think repelling is what they love the most!

image

image

And shortly after this adventure they wanted to practice bouldering (no harness, height they are comfortable with jumping down from)

image

image

Recently, my daughter took some of her girl friends on a trail ride (some of her friends had never been on a horse, so you can see trail walkers near each horse for the riders safety) my son played Mindcrap with his friends (the brothers of the horse riders) it was a perfect day for all involved. Haha!

image

image

While school kids are finishing up their last few weeks of school, I hear my public school mama friends tell me about their busy end of school year calendar chaos. It reminds me how very blessed we are to be homeschooling. We are enjoying all this warm weather having fun with friends and not in a busy chaotic frenzy.

Spring is here…Fuzzy Butts and Bud Fuzz

We are sure seeing signs of spring around here.

Our fuzzy butts (aka baby chickens) are settled into their brooder. We have 13 chicks this spring. We will be eating and sharing a lot of eggs with family and friends come this fall.

This year our flock will consist of a variety of breeds, which will hopefully give us a fantastic variety of colorful eggs. We sure have missed having fresh eggs in the house. Unfortunately two years ago a predator made a dinner out of our entire flock one night, leaving not much evidence behind except a couple of feathers from our more feisty hen…named FLOWER haha!

We are also seeing some bud break in the vineyard

—-

I’m laughing a bit, because I had thought I finished this draft and posted it eons ago…but apparently didn’t and now I can’t find the photos of our darling little fuzzy butt chicks (who are nearly grown now!) nor can I find the vineyard bud break photos…sooo here is what middle of spring looks like around here haha!

image

image

Homeschooling is apparently keeping me busy, but summer is on the way and schooling gets pretty relaxed during the summer months.

Maybe blogging more consistently will be my summer time goal? ( fingers crossed)

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!