Just everyday life…

Recently I’ve been asked so many homeschool questions by both homeschooling mamas and schooling mamas thinking about homeschooling and mamas that can’t even fathom homeschooling. Seems like the universe is sending loads of questions my way. Maybe to remind me I have this severely neglected blog here.

Anyhow, here is a collection of recent pics and activities in our day. Which is what most people seem to want. A fly on the wall glimpse into our days.

Most of our days start off with groggy sleepy eyed kids waking up on their own terms. Typically my son is first, he will crawl into my bed, snuggle up and read the news on his iPad (News-o-Matic app for iPad, has current affairs in kid safe articles) while I check my email and surf the web. Eventually my super sleeper daughter will wake up, she loves her snooze time! And then the kids will often play games, Legos, or some other free choice activity while I feed the chickens, rabbits, water the garden, make breakfast, etc…

image

Morning Lego time…I’m sometimes convinced they think they are clever and this is the perfect academic procrastination scheme, because as we get closer to anything resembling classroom activities, they get along super well, they start building amazing projects that a mother would never want to stop in exchange for book work! You’ve never seen such team work! ❤

image

 

image

Right now Legos, robotics, digital design are all favorites. FYI – Lego digital design is a free download that my kids love! They can design ANYTHING using ALL Lego pieces on the computer, print off their designs and have step by step directions to build their projects. And in some cases give the directions to friends to see if their friends can build their designs.

image

Some days the kiddos do their academics with ease, happy smiles, efficient flow, and all is blissful, but don’t be fooled. We have our moments when it comes to school like activities!

image

image

Can you see her enthusiasm for today’s writing and math lessons. Haha!

We have been reading this book for a more interesting math experience in addition to our more classroom like math lessons.

A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe:

Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science
by Michael S. Schneider
Link: http://amzn.com/0060926716

You can see here, the kids were intrigued by a comment in the beginning of the book about triangle numbers, square numbers, rectangle numbers. Who teaches about shape numbers? What are shape numbers? Why are they mentioned? Well my kids played around with little disc markers, trying to find out what pattern was the book talking about.

image

 

image

 

This is what they discovered:

image

Seems like something simple now looking at it, but figuring it out on your own took MUCH MORE creative brain power then their classroom like math lessons.

Hands-on activities, project based learning is MUCH MORE PRODUCTIVE in our household, but it can also be more difficult to document in the event one must prove academic advancement. So to make that easy on my record keeping, my kiddos are subjected to boring old paperwork as well as hands-on projects and an overall educational lifestyle.

Here is a hands on activity that wasn’t planned SCHOOL, but was very educational. The kids and I watched a documentary on sugar and the western diet. (THAT SUGAR FILM on Netflix)

image

This spurred a family attempt to document and cut out as much processed sugar as possible. Day one, we decided to go with ZERO processed sugar grams, as we already eat a fairly low sugar diet compared to many families. (Any often times pretty colorful) here are some example meals: lots of raw fruit n veg! My son is VERY PICKY when it comes to foods, but he will eat raw fruit n veg any day, so I don’t worry about his health, just crack up when people talk about cooking. Ask me what I’m making for dinner. Long ago, I stopped cooking and started serving food types instead! Haha!
image

 

image

So back to sugar intake, day one, zero processed sugars is the goal. UPS shows up, dropping off belated EASTER BASKETS FROM GRANDMA FULL OF SUGARY GOODNESS! Soooo to not be a complete kill joy on such an exciting shipment. We decided to limit daily processed sugars which lent a hand to MORE MATH! 🙂

image

The kids had a limit of 15 grams per day. They needed to figure out how many grams of sugar were in PEEPS and other candies. How many can they have each day? Do they want two peeps or half a peep and half a box of butter cookies? They worked out every item in their baskets and labeled them with post it notes. Made charts to document their daily sugar intake.

AND THEN CAME CONSUMPTION…

image

 

We definitely count outside classes as part of school. And we are loaded up this year with extra classes! Jazz, Ballet, homeschool PE, drums, guitar, ukulele, keyboarding, yoga, horse riding, robotics, scouts, and more…

image

image

Planning to reach Eagle Scout rank takes years of prep work and a lot of learning…I definitely count scouts as school work!
image

Earning Merit Badges is often a lot like classroom work as well as combining some hands on activities. Here our son is learning/earning and environmental merit badge.

image

And of course there is always time in the day to discover too many ashes in the mini BQQ that need to become ash bombs! Which are far more powerful and messy then a dirt clod! Aka BOY HEAVEN!

image

I think our days are fairly average…some good….some not so good…but the best part about homeschooling is I get to experience so much of my kids lives with them. ❤

Advertisements

New Goals and updates

I have a few new goals this year.

We started a new routine to our day when we started back from the holidays. We are aiming to keep this routine for 100 days. So far we are forming new habits and it’s going well!

Now that is flowing I’m going to try a weekly post on this blog. I am telling myself there is no reason I can’t do this! I have a gap of time every Thursday, and if I make that gap of time blog time in my mind, it should work out.

As for a mini update, here are a few things we’ve been doing (or dealing with)

We hatched out 8 eggs (think I blogged about it in previous posts) well seven of the eight chicks were roosters! Yes I use “were” because a few of them became dinner.

image

It it was difficult to watch. I don’t think I’ll be able to endure that again unless I saw something far swifter!

But once dead, I felt it was a waste if we didn’t eat them and honor their life in a way.  My daughter and I plucked them and discussed life and death. It was a nice opportunity to have a meaningful conversation on this topic.

image

It was honestly THE BEST CHICKEN DINNER I’ve ever had!

A few lucky roosters have gotten to stay, because they were the least dominate and we weren’t interested in having a lot of cock fights or children being chased after.

Black beard and silver seven (grey one on the left, with his less dominant tail down) got to stay. The grey rooster with his tail up, Greyson, was given to a friend…his outcome is unknown and I don’t want to know because I have a feeling eventually he will be dinner.

image

image

So far silver seven and  black beard are doing alright, but this spring we will need to get them some lucky ladies, as our current rooster Frosty is not sharing his flock what so ever! Not even one hen!

NEW DRUMS!

Another new addition to the family is my sons beloved drum set. He has put together his own “band” they are named “THE PIXELATORS” remember that name as one day he’s certain he will have a famous rock band!

image

Best part of this electronic drum set is….drum roll please…you can play with headphones and it’s quiet! Haha! He can also play loud without the headphones, so best of both worlds!

Recently we had a band practice…it was priceless!!! The Pixelators Rock!

image

Another fun adventure is seeing my children find their curiosity! I was worried it left the house, but recently while having free time, they are doing science experiments and art work again! Another good reminder not to worry too much,  life does truly come in waves.

image

image

And of course we are still doing our school work…

image

…nothing better than graphing CANDY!

we also attended an acrobat performance. The kids we’re very impressed with this man balancing on six chairs, on top of a stand…

image

And this man riding a bicycle with eight passengers!

image

This performance has encouraged a few acrobatic activities at home!

image

Have a great week…hopefully my goals of working out 7 minutes a day (with the “SEVEN” app) and weekly blog writing will take place! Just a few goals at a time…once these are in place I will add more goals, or new habits!

Beetle Bailey Wins the War on Math Today

image

While doing some boring old math drill practice…I notice the comic strip section of the paper has caught my son’s eye…guessing I will need to record more reading then math for this hour! Haha!

Tis The Season To Be Busy…Fa La La La La La La

I haven’t been keeping up on my blog, because life just has a way of speeding by during this time of the year. We arrived home from our vacation and came home to boom boom boom a long list of events…We start off with Harvest, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving (and Thanksgivukkah this year for our Jewish friends) and POOF Christmas is right around the corner.

image

On this particularly busy day, it was a super crazy day. I was going all day and exhausted. The kids were off playing and I saw a window for myself to just have a calm quiet cup of tea. I made myself a cup of tea, got a book, a couple extra cushions for the patio chair, settled myself down. Look over and see this! Seriously! Really? You gotta be kidding me! Ever have days like this!?! Well you aren’t alone! 😉

Here is a photo blog of what has been keeping us so busy and hopefully that will release me of my poor blogging skills guilt! (there’s always hope right!?!? ha ha!) It should make the family happy to have current photos of the kiddos doing what they do. 🙂

image

Harvest Time – We generally spend a little time in the vineyard picking grapes with the crews. They often will save us a small plot to pick, because to be honest the crews are MUCH MORE efficient then we are. They can clear three or four rows in the same time we pick our small patch. But it is still fun to be a part of the harvest, eat a few grapes, dodge a few bees, learn hands on what a harvest really is about.

image

Horse riding lessons – Each week the kids have horse riding lessons with an amazing trainer. Each week they alternate between English, Western & Vaulting lessons. Their balance and spatial awareness is growing leaps and bounds! In this photo the horse is walking. She is learning various vaulting skills at walk and trot.

image

Science Experiments – This was a science kit explaining quick sand. After this experiment I found a better recipe online and we created a larger bowl of “quick sand” that occupied the kids for days and sadly killed many small plastic animals. (no worries though, all were saved by the dishwasher!)

image

image

Pumpkin Patch Farm With Homeschooling Friends – we spent about 6 hours at this farm enjoying every aspect of it. Seeing the fields on a tractor hay ride, running thru hay mazes, feeding the farm animals, shopping their fresh product, eating yummy treats in their restaurant. It was a great day and the kids (mama too!) were tuckered out afterwards!

image

And of course we carved pumpkins…Jack O’lanterns are always so much fun!

image

More BIG NEWS – “Mom Dad, come see” – sooo we head outside and there she is, riding her brothers bike without training wheels. Apparently big brother helped her learn how to ride his bike. We were able to see the first steps as he ran behind her on his bike, hilariously cute! So dad took the trainers off HER bike and she “relearned” on her bike…she is very proud of her new-found skills!

image

image

And of course “SCHOOL TIME” – both kiddos enjoy desk work (believe it or not!) I have my theories on why my kids think school work is fun…pretty much has to do with the fact it’s THEIR CHOICE.

image

“SURFING” on Grandpa’s back – I remember doing these things with my dad as a child and it’s fun to see my kids enjoying the same adventures. He would throw us up in the air, across the pool, we’d swim on his back and pretend he was a dolphin, Surf across the pool on his back. And it appears he still has the touch!

image

Homeschool Park Day – Halloween party for the homeschoolers. Some people believe homeschoolers are unsocialized and they never get to play with their peers. I will tell you during this fun adventure I heard a lot of the kids using their words to say things like “please pass the stickers” or “thank you” I didn’t see any pushing, shoving or grabbing going on. I’d say they were very well-mannered and displayed great social skills.

image

Trick or Treat – Halloween is always fun! This year we celebrated with some friends. The kids ran from door to door and then afterwards enjoyed a good old fashion candy swap. I think all the kids felt they came out ahead!

image

School Math the next day included Candy sorting, charting, adding and the kids favorite SUBTRACTING (aka eating!)

image

Homeschool Park Day – Each week we get together with homeschool friends for park day and it is always so fun to see the older kids helping the younger kids and all the kids having fun together just being kids! I love it! So much joy!

image

We made a little road trip to see JACK HANNA in action! he brought a bunch of wild animals to share with us and teach us some interesting facts about animals and various areas in the world.

image

Our reading tree is SLOWLY filling. We actually have read way more books, but we unfortunately keep forgetting to add them to the tree. Each item is for a different reading situation, the animals are for chapter books, acorns for readers, leaves for story books, etc…

image

Rain Gutter Regatta – This is a cub scouts event. The boys build sail boats and then using their breath power they blow the boat in a race down rain gutters. Its great fun and the kids all design great vessels!

image

More School Time – they love their desks and it cracks me up every time they happily work away at their desks asking for more work.

image

Another opportunity to do some math, geography, foreign language and character work – each year about this time, Samaritan’s Purse puts on the OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD program http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ and each year I give the kids a budget and a list of approved items. I take them shopping and they can choose what they want to go into their shoe box. They need to stay within budget. They need to scout out items that are on the list and fit in their box. They deliver the boxes to a local church and see all the work people put into making Christmas special for others. They learn about giving. We purchase tracking codes so we can track what country our boxes go to and learn more about that area. And they HOPE a child will return a letter one day. This year we wrote our letter in a couple of languages hoping someone would translate for the receiver. We shall see.

image

image

image

We read a bunch of books on nature and animal tracks. One of the books suggested looking for an OWL during the day. So we headed out in search of tracks, owls and owl pellets. (which is owl puke, some people think it’s poop. The owl eats a WHOLE mouse and then the fur and bones bundle up together during digestion and the owl pukes it out)

We did find lots of tracks, bobcats, deer, pigs, coyotes, birds, and our dogs! ha ha! At the base of several trees we searched for owl pellets. We looked at the tippy tops of many trees. No owls and no owl pellets. But lucky for us, Amazon.com sells owl pellet kits and has two-day shipping! ha ha!

The kits are great, because they come with little bone charts and the kids can pretend they are paleontologists, digging around for bones and then placing them back together to see if they have a whole animal!

image

When it was all over the kids drew pictures and wrote about it in their nature journals.

image

On occasion we get to do school with our homeschooling friends.

image

and we also get to do pizza parties and arcade games with our homeschooling friends.

image

image

image

We have a few family traditions that make our Thanksgiving one of our favorite holidays! For starters we eat venison instead of turkey. 1) we’re pretty sure they had venison at the first thanksgiving meal. and 2) no one in our family likes turkey, so who wants to spend all day cooking a big old bird no one will eat. We have a TURKEY SHOOT, which is great fun! The kids blow up surgical gloves and we decorate them to look like turkeys. Take them down to the shooting range and take turns shooting the turkeys. (We use both rifles and bows) And last but certainly not least, we have a pumpkin toss. And all of those pumpkins we collected are tossed down the canyon. We see who can throw the farthest, highest, funniest, etc… Then we hike down the canyon and smash the pumpkins open, getting any aggression out on the poor little pumpkins! ha ha! But this opens them up so nature can take its course and the pumpkins do their part in the cycle of life.

image

And then comes the food coma! I couldnt eat another bite!

image

image

We also have piano recitals that keep us moving and grooving!

image

Before you know it, it is Christmas tradition time! Poof, three months has flown by! This year for the first time, the kid’s gingerbread houses don’t look like a candy/frosting factory puked on them. This is the first year they both decided to follow some suggested ideas in the directions! I was both impressed and sad to be honest. I was impressed with how well their houses came out (one is in the background, but you can still see it, lovely icicles!) But I was sad to know their childish glops of frosting and uneven gum drops were days of the past now. It has spurred a field trip. We are going to go check out a bakery that makes professional gingerbread houses and see how they do their amazing decorating tricks.

image

image

And with Christmas comes the shelf elves! Meet Sir SugarSocks MacMistletoe and his lady elf friend. They get into mischief in our house on occasion, but for the most part they are decent elves that simply report to Santa how the kids are doing throughout the season!

Please forgive my lack of blogging lately, but as you can see we have been keeping busy with events, friends, family and school.

The Benefits of Relaxed Homeschooling Year Round

First off I should let you know we are considered “relaxed schoolers” And we relax-learn year-round for many reasons, some of the main reasons are:

1) I noticed my children (back when we attended school) defined learning as something you can only do at a desk with dictation by a teacher. You simply could not learn in any other situation. In fact they protested anything they deemed as school-ish outside of school hours. The class room situation quickly killed their lovely spirit and curiosity to learn, which broke my heart and frustrated our whole family. The children were stressed and their behavior reflected their stress.

By relax schooling my children have reconnected with the freedom to choose WHAT they want to learn, WHEN they want to learn it, WHERE they want to learn it and HOW they want to learn it. Which has translated into a constant stream of learning. They no longer protest the process of learning. Life is once again a peaceful learning experience, year round.

The process of “de-schooling” took my children a few months, but we didn’t see complete fruits of our labors until we as a family found trust in ourselves, our abilities and overall our family groove.

2) Before school I was a “strewing” type mama. Which is an unschooling term. And I stopped that when the kids were in school. I assumed they were getting their education at school. I assumed very wrong. Once we pulled out, I started strewing again. And once again our entire lives became educational; therefore, we homeschool year round, whether we want to or not. ha ha!

Everything we do has a degree of learning to it.

Example:

An average morning could look like this…sleepy heads surfacing, wanting to snuggle and listen to an audio book.

The audio story may lead my son to research the status of Pluto as a planet or not. He will talk non-stop about it, research it, make crafts of it, etc for a few days afterwards. Or become a detective like the main character in the story and start a sleuthing club.

My daughter might want to watch a cartoon DVD. I agree to let her watch, as long as the language of the DVD was switched to french. She will build a fort on the sofa and start talking to her stuffed animals in french.

It is still early in the morning, they are still in their PJs and nibbling on their breakfast….their minds are engaged in something interesting to them. The wheels are turning and I haven’t opened one text-book yet.

3) year round schooling allows you to take time off as needed.

I follow a few curriculums, because it makes record keeping for the state that much easier. I only follow curriculums my children enjoy.

I will give a giant shout out to the math program “LIFE OF FRED” my son will literally BEG me to do more and more chapters. My daughter is not a fan of math, but she is a fan of snuggling up with mom on the sofa to hear a story about math and the life of the crazy little character Fred.
http://www.stanleyschmidt.com/FredGauss/11catofbooks.html

If we sit down to do some text-book type schooling, and it isn’t going smoothly, If it is causing frustration for me or the kids, we can simply take that day off and come back to it at a later time.

Our state requires 175-180 days of school, depending on the year. By homeschooling year round, I don’t have to really worry about taking a day off or even a week off now and then. There is no way we will have 185 bad days each year and if we do, then something drastically needs to change! In fact we normally hit our 100th day of school at least a month before the public school hits theirs.

Other reasons we might take a day off are less stressful reasons…maybe friends or family come to visit. A spontaneous trip to Legoland. It is simply a beautiful day out and the beach or a hike sounds more appealing. It snows on our mountains and we want to make a snowman or go sledding. There are plenty of fabulous reasons to ditch the text books and head outside for a great learning experience.

Some families enjoy having a hard start and stop to their school year, but that does not work for our family. We see learning as something fun and a natural part of life that doesn’t stop in the summer or on the weekends.

My children do have some friends that attend school and can’t understand why my children love schooling year round. It does not compute with the kids that attend school, because they live for the summer break….to make that less confusing we simply call July our summer if people ask.

As I typed out this blog, my son was explaining this balancing experiment to his sister. (He learned all about this experiment from the tv show Beakman’s world. I am not anti-TV, but I am a firm believer that TV options for kids NEED to have an educational element. TV needs to spark curiosity that extends into their real life.)

image

image

And now that I’m about to hit publish on my post my son comes up to me and says “excuse me mom, but do you think you could give me some homework?” I ask “like what kind of homework?” He says “oh I don’t know maybe like go research our solar system or something?” I send him off with a post-it note that says “research and write down five facts about our solar system” he runs off with a giant smile….a moment later he asks if I can take him to the library today…so there you have it, we will be going to the library today. 🙂

That is what homeschooling in our house looks like! That is what learning should look like IMHO and that is why we have a relaxed homeschooling style and why we do it year round.