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…

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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! ❤

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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.

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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!

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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.

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This is what they discovered:

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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)

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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!
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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! 🙂

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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…

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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…

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

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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!

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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. ❤

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SnakeS!

Plural! As in TWO snakes caught in my garden net!

First off I planted a lovely garden which clearly the wildlife enjoyed too! Because one morning I came out to water a bunch of teensy green nubs of what used to be a lovely lush green garden!

After nursing what was left, and seeing some life come back into my garden, I decided I needed to net the garden to avoid the evil plotting of the local wild life on my garden!

The net worked well. After a couple of weeks, I decided to replant a few of the spots that were clearly not going reinvent their lives and make a come back.

As I walked out to my chicken coop to feed my flock, collect eggs and water my garden (doesn’t that sound so peaceful, can you hear the morning birds chirping?) I was startled by a flicking snake tail! Thank heavens it wasn’t a rattler!

Upon closer investigation I see that TWO gopher snakes…clearly on the hunt for a yummy gopher snack, were beyond tangled up in the left over netting from my netted garden.

See the tail –>image

 

And the head –>image

 

Side note: a lot of snakes die this way and so if you have spare netting lying around, please collect it and put it up high off the ground. Gopher snakes are good friends. They will scare the s h i t out of you, because they look and can act like a rattle snake, but they are a friend and will help with gopher over population!

 

(Rattle snakes are born with at least one button on their tail and will always have a rattle, gopher snakes do not have buttons or rattles)

Here is a link to tell the difference between gopher and rattle snakes.

http://www.pe.com/articles/hayes-762525-rattlesnakes-bites.html

Scroll down to rattle snake pictures and you will find it (last picture in the set)

 

Anyhow, back to the problem at hand…what is one to do here? My husband says kill the snakes. I say no…keep the good snakes alive so the bad snakes don’t take over!

(Another side note: King snakes will kill and eat rattle snakes)

Instead we cut them out and sent them off with our local animal rescue to the vet. The vet can take the tight netting off without cutting the snake and then give it a good exam and set it back into the wild.

 

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As the animal rescue woman was leaving our property another giant gopher snake was crossing our driveway…it’s amazing we still have any gophers!

And yet another side note: gopher snakes can climb trees! They will if required go looking for prey up in trees, we’ve had one flop out of a tree and land on the ground in front of my daughter…who is also an avid tree climber, so always keep a keen eye out when playing in nature, but remember gopher snakes are a friend.

alls well that ends well….two good snakes kept their lives for another day of gopher hunting.

Our Week

Everyday we find time to laugh and on this day, we couldn’t stop laughing. My daughter was a crazy girl with the hose! She ended up bathing not only this horse but the three surrounding horses and all human beings in the vicinity! I think she might have a future career as a fire fighter! NO ONE was safe! We were all drenched!

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Horse care is a big part of her responsibilities! And she LOVES it!

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First Lego League http://www.firstlegoleague.org is a great group to become involved with. The kids learn so much more than Lego robotics. They learn valuable social skills, how to be part of a team and how to support not only your own team but the teams you are competing with.

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While at the park we stumbled upon a woman who was spinning yarn and her daughter was knitting. Both of these wonderful people shared their talent and craft with our children.

Another crafty person was making balloon creations for a donation. I did not have ANY cash on me, so my children were upset they couldn’t have a balloon. However, they didn’t waste a second sulking, instead they started to problem solve! Before you knew I they had found several coins on the ground at the park and made that donation and got their balloons! I was so impressed with this balloon artists creations, I had to share! Aren’t those swans too cute!

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More fun with friends…

image Climbing the baseball stop is always exciting!

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During tea time, the girls found these “eggs” on this plant. If you happen to know what kind of eggs they are, feel free to comment!

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Chess Club is another exciting adventure in our lives!

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After Chess Club our host family had a lovely fire and supplied the kids with good old fashion s’mores!

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This week our daughter tried her hand at the trumpet. She is very excited about this possibility, but I can’t tell if she’s excited about playing the trumpet or the homework of blasting her notes to wake up her brother in the morning?

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All little girls need a “friends forever” necklace to share with a good friend. Sadly this particular friend is moving away this summer. Thank heavens for technology, they can still keep in touch.

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More re fun with friends.

A great game of “dead man” on the trampoline…an all time favorite!

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An interesting thought on homeschooling…

…We were at an appointment this morning and the doctor asked if we were finished with school. He seemed half shocked and half concerned. I said we have already accomplished our math and language studies, why? Turns out he was a little shocked it can be conquered so quickly compared to traditional school.

This got me thinking about our days…

I’m not sure if the Spanish Vocab CD we were listening to in the car counts as our foreign language, or if our discussion and research on ancient Egypt counts towards history or if the ancient Egyptian picture my son drew counts as art, or if the books my kids read during their free time count as language…because those are just every day occurrences. My kids don’t count those activities as SCHOOL. They only consider WORKSHEETS and WORKBOOKS to be school…

…and they hate school!

But they LOVE TO LEARN!

We’re we finished for the day? Are we ever finished for the day? I don’t think we ever stop learning! Our entire lives are educational. We were finished with our worksheets for the day!  Yes!  TGIF! But we are never finished learning, it’s a homeschoolers life to love to learn! ❤️

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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And of course we are still doing our school work…

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…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…

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And this man riding a bicycle with eight passengers!

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This performance has encouraged a few acrobatic activities at home!

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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!

Learning on a Weekend?!?!

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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!

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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!

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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!

 

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.

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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!

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Unfortunate end to a lovely creature!

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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.

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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.)

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My daughter was very interested in the heart.

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We cut it in half to see the various chambers…

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

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…and arteries.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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On to the intestines!

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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.

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Seeing how delicately the blood vessels were attached,

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

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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.