Goodbye for now| Research, Purchase, and Print | Bible | “Can we have snack now?” | History – the Medici’s | We will understand math | “I’m still hungry . . .” | Phonics – 4 and 6 | Kid’s Club and Youth end of year party | Waste time when should be cleaning the kitchen | Spelling | Science | Wrap up language arts| Exhausted | House a mess – when was there time for chores? | Good night

Home Educating Family is giving away the first year of Visual Latin. I would love to give this program a try with the kids! You can enter to. 🙂

http://www.wellplannedday.com/contest01.php

Winter Tree Study 2011
Glitter: Connie Prince – A New Beginning
Photo Treatment: Inspired By Dominic Designs – Easy Blends Vol 1
Fonts: Miss Tina Fonts – MTF-Base Leafy and MTF-Mikayla Print
Everything else – Connie Prince – No Place Like Home

Journaling:
For this year’s tree study, we are going to keep our eyes on the lovely paper birch (Betula papyrifera) that grows in the front yard near the front creek. This was a cold, windy, snowy day, with overcast skies. The bark of the trunk was white and papery, while the branchs’ bark was a reddish-brown. Alex found a branch high up in the tree that still had a portion of the tree’s fruit. We noticed the buds were already appearing .

Just in case you didn’t know, Barb over at the Handbook of Nature Study has some truly, truly inspirational challenges to get you started in nature study. She uses as her “spine” the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. You may be like me, having the book already on your shelf, because it is pretty much a homeschool stand-by, yet having no idea what to really do with it. I am so happy that I found these challenges, as they’ve really made nature study a “pick up and go” activity and I am finally using this book.

Winter Cattail Study 2011
Connie Prince Designs: Being a Mom and No Place Like Home
Miss Tina Fonts: MTF-Base Leafy and MTF-Mikayla Print

Journaling:
Thankfully, we have an abun dance of cattails growing near the back pond, which makes for an easy study. We visited the patch 12/9/10 and discovered several new things about cattails. It was a cold, lighly snowy day. We found our cattails were narrow leaved and, of course, growing near a water source. We surmised that the usual mode of spreading the seeds is through the water. We also learned that the flower spike of the cattail looks nearly the same in “full bloom” as it does when it is first growing. We found that the flower does float. The stalk near the base of the plant is very rigid, while very flexible further up. The leaves had vertical, parallel veins. We’re enjoying our bundle-up outdoor sessions!

Outdoor Hour Button

Here are our notes from our trek out to the giant maple tree behind the creek. The tree would appear to actually be about four trees all grown together. A skinny person, ie Cheeseburger, could climb between the main trunks into the cavity between the trees in the center of the growth. Our trees are beyond blossoming and are into full-grown leafing, so we weren’t able to observe the blossoms; maybe next year.

Banany Beautiful Special: The maple tree's leaves are like umbrellas.  There were little red shoots on the branch. Bear

We had friends over for the study, so the notebook pages were pretty bare bones. It is kind of tough to concentrate on maple trees when there are beaver dams to look at, shells to collect from the creek, friends to talk to, and sunshine to absorb!

Outdoor Hour Button
As a re-start to our nature studies, we are once again following the phenomenal plans laid out for us by Barb from The Handbook of Nature Study blog. Really, Barb’s plans make nature study so friendly that my only excuse for not doing them is my own laziness.

These plans heavily use that homeschooling nature study stand-by: The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. A true living book, Mrs. Comstock’s love of nature comes through loud and clear, as does her passion for passing that love along to children.

On Monday, for our first day of our Spring study, we simply sat outside and tried to be quiet. I know that Banany had a rough time with that -it can be difficult to be six sometimes. But he made the attempt admirably and I tried not to torture them with too long of a period of silence! I asked the children to listen and tell me what they could hear from God’s creation: birds singing (which we were later told by Special happens because the male is trying to attract a female, one bird is sounding a warning, or just for the joy of singing), flies buzzing past our ears, woodpeckers hammering on trees (to look for food or make a nest, according to Banany), and the wind whistling (Bear’s favorite sound). I thought that this was a good re-introduction to nature for us and a great lesson in the many things to be learned in the sounds of silence.

Tuesday took us back outdoors, this time with the specific intent to look up possible signs of spring’s arrival. This late in April, spring has definitely sprung! We saw the green grass, the dandelions, the buds on the trees. We heard the birds singing through the trees – oh so many more than there had been during the cold winter. The air even smells different in the spring. Bear had a great time pointing out to us the tiny little pinecones forming at the ends of the pines and explaining the growth from last year, as could be seen by last year’s stubborn pinecones. The children all came in and wrote up their notebook page from the Outdoor Hour Challenge on Signs of Spring.

Bear: 4pm The baby birds turn from babies to adults.  The rocks are extremely hot.  Butterflies play, streams ripple, and bees buzz. Special: We found a robin's egg that must have fallen out of its nest, because the only holes were ones that ants made.  We had beavers, and in the spring ants are busy and pine needles sport a fuzzy new growth. Beautiful Banany

Today’s nature study was a reading from The Handbook on Maple Trees. The children especially delighted in the descriptions of old-time syrup harvesting. I’m sure more than one remembered the description from Laura Ingalls Wlder’s Little House books. Special took on the role of teacher as she explained to all of us what the lobe of a leaf is. Tomorrow, we will head out behind the creek, where there are three tall maples growing, and examine their bark, branches, blossoms, and buds. The leaves in some spots are just beginning to unfurl. During and after our visit, the children and I will complete a notebook page on the springtime Maple tree. I’ll try to get those scanned and posted by next Thursday.

What have you done lately to foster your children’s (or your own!) love of God’s creation? Do you enjoy nature walks, trips to a park, or even bug watching along the sidewalk? So your children narrate back to you what they’ve seen and heard?

We’ve had two meetings now for the EC that my wonderful, patient dh is leading for the boys in our homeschool group. It turns out that nearly every boy (from one homeschool group) that was even close to the target ages signed up. I have twenty-one (yes, 21) boys on the list! The first day we had 17 men & boys in our basement. Four dads showed up and really seemed to learn a lot and enjoy the lecture dh gave.

The second meeting brought us nine boys and four dads, some of each group being new. Dh lectured again and demonstrated something electronic-y. Everyone seems to be having a really good time, even dh.

I think he is channeling his inner teacher. He always says that he is not a good teacher, but I think he is great when it is something he is passionate about. He seems to be rather at ease up in front and has managed to really excite some of the boys (and dads!). Isn’t that what teaching is all about? Exciting and inspiring your students to further study and exploration? I say a resounding YES!

I’m pretty excited about how all of this is going. I have to admit it isn’t working out how I’d originally thought; dh is doing a lot more lecturing and the kids are doing a lot less playing. But that will turn around soon, once they get a bit of foundation under their feet. Most of the boys came into it with little idea of what electricity was and now they’re moving on to components and theories.

Cheeseburger is enjoying it, as well. He is making some friends and learning a lot. Dh had taught him a lot of this already, but to have it presented in class form like this is causing him to focus a little better and take in all the information on a deeper level. He comes up after class and doesn’t even seem disappointed to have missed two hours of video game play. {wink} That’s really saying something!

Or should I say, “Dad school”? One of the ideas for a homeschool family who is trying to implement a Thomas Jefferson Education (Leadership Education), is Mom School. The idea is somewhat like a co-op, but run a little differently and the reasons for doing it are a little different.

Firstly, the planning and implementation of a Mom School is not only in the hands of the parents, but the children who are to participate also contribute. In a normal co-op setting, moms (and dads, of course) make the decisions about curriculum, classes, teachers, and times. In a Mom School, the child or children involved fully participate in the planning and execution of the class or club.

Secondly, the entire idea of the Mom School is to implement an activity that your child(ren) needs to fulfill a part of their training for their life-mission or even the mission itself. This is not just regular schooling (although it could be) because Mom doesn’t feel capable of teaching Algebra. The idea is that if your child needs something, and it isn’t already available, you make it happen.

I’ve decided to take this step with Cheeseburger. He has been passionately interested in electronics for several years now. Because of this, we’re going to start an electronics club, opening it up to the two homeschool groups to which we belong. I’m not sure what kind of participation we’ll get because we are a half-hour out from each group’s central location, but I’m hoping at least five or six boys will want to join us. Mr. Nutt will teach a concept (determined by the boys’ interest and knowledge level) one Saturday each month, and two weeks later, we’ll meet again for experimentation and application. I’m really hoping to form a cohesive group of boys, so that we can enter a contest or two.

Do you see an area in which your children need a class, club, or organization? Is it already available in your community? If not, is there some way that you could get it started?

Well okay. School for us never really ends. Because all of life is education and we are all always learning something. But there is a necessary end to subjects and a necessary beginning to the next. We choose to start them as a family and go with the flow of society by beginning in September. After Labor Day. The Tuesday after Labor Day. (Yes, I know that those last two “sentences” weren’t really sentences, because there was no subject/predicate thing happening. It is called “artistic license.”) I am certain that you all have been waiting with baited breath to see what curricula I am going to use with my brood. I won’t make you wait any longer. I would hate to be responsible for any brain injury that such breath baiting might cause. So, without further ado (don’t you just love that word, “ado”), I unveil: The 2008-2009 School Year at Harvest Home Academy! (Mild applause)

All the Nutts
Bible: Bible Study Guide for All Ages – We don’t use the worksheets that they sell, just the teachers guide. We all love this program and are learning tons from just reading the Bible and answering the questions. The kids also enjoy the little memory games that we play.
Language Arts: Institute for Excellence in Writing – I’m watching the Teaching Writing With Structure and Style right now. Mr. Pudewa is certainly a very engaging speaker. While enjoying this video program, I’m hoping to learn how to better teach my children to write well. (How was that for a clausal opener????)
Teaching the Classics – This is another IEW course, from Adam and Missy Andrews. The goal of the course is to teach me to teach the children literary analysis. I’m so excited about this one. It uses the Socratic Dialogue to lead the reader in understanding the structure and content of a story. We won’t use it for every book or story that we read; once a month is plenty of practice for us.
Grammar by the Book from Fortunately for You Books – This is a wonderfully simple concept which I’ve always wanted to do, but could never really figure out how. Simple cards with directions are used as the children are reading their books, and they learn real grammar with real books. I have to admit, my children know woefully little about grammar. F1 was forced at no-dessert-point to do some grammar in Harvey’s Elementary English Grammar. He hated it. I hated it. Hate is a strong word, isn’t it? It is incredibly accurate in this case, though. Some people get into that fill in the blank with stuff that doesn’t apply to real life at all thing, but not us. F3 was exposed to a bit of it, too, but I wised up much sooner with her. Again, with Grammar by the Book, we will only do it with one book a month, not every book. Just enough to get their feet wet and adjusted to the idea that grammar and real life reading and write do intersect.
Copywork or Dictation – F1 is going to start dictating a paragraph to F3 and helping her correct it. Good for him, her, and me. He likes the idea, she is okay with it, and I love it. He will start doing copywork again, but the topic will be of his own choice. He’s forgotten how to write in cursive semi-neatly and needs a refresher course in it; the copywork will fill that bill nicely. F2 is still in need of working on making his printing legible and being able to follow lines of text and keep his place. I’m going to let him choose his own topics as well. F4 will be working on copywork as well.
Oral Recitation – Yeah, I know. Recitation. We’ve never, ever done this. And it shows. (Yes, I just started a sentence with “and”. Here’s my knuckles…crack them with the ruler. I’m still not deleting it.) I’ve decided that it needs to happen. They will all memorize pieces of literature or history that interest them and recite their pieces to the family. If they like it, they may do it at the local homeschool group’s show and tell night.
Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Yes, I know you all remember last year’s debacle with the missing Mavis. But she is right where she belongs now and shouldn’t offer up the same difficulties as last year.
Science: Nature studies with The Outdoor Hour and The Handbook of Nature Study

Now, on to each individual’s plans.

F1, 13 years old, eighth grade
Math – Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra, first sememster. Begin Teaching Textbooks Algebra, second semester.
Logic – Traditional Logic 1, first semester. Begin Traditional Logic 2, second semester.
Science – Apologia General Science, first semester. Begin Apologia Physical Science, second semester.
Middle Ages unit study by Hip2Homeschool (very revised to include a lot more literature and activities. I hope to make it stretch out the whole year. As of now, it is only 26 days long. I’ll probably combine it with All About Knights unit study by Brandenburg Studies.)with:
F2, 12 years old, fifth grade
Math – I don’t know yet! Yeah, I know. Either Saxon 3 or Math Mammoth 2. Haven’t decided yet. Sigh.
Phonics – Still. But he is reading much, much better right now. We’ll continue to use TATRAS, but he’s reading at the point now that he can read real books in short snatches. Because of that (all you IEW users, did you notice that because opener?), I’ll alternate days with TATRAS and real book reading. I think he’ll like that.
F3, 10 years old, fifth grade
Math – Same as F2.
Spelling – An informal program of learning the rules for the words she misspells in her writing.
Beautiful Feet Horses unit study along with:
F4, 6 years old, first grade
Math – Math Mammoth 1 (I think.) I might use Making Math Meaningful. Or, I might not and start over with Saxon 1. I just don’t know yet.
Phonics – TATRAS. I really like that program. It is nice and gentle in its approach to learning to read, no pressure and plenty of room for my own little additions and subtractions.

Phew. I’m tired now, just thinking about it all. Right now, I’m working on getting materials organized for the unit studies. F1 will be doing most of the reading aloud with F2 and F3 will be doing that with F4. I am mostly just supervising their work and letting them enjoy. We’ll see how it all works out once the fun begins. Day after Labor Day, here we come! (wild, raucous applause)

F3 has caught four grasshoppers over the last few days. One, we suffocated in a jar with alcohol and pinned to some cardboard. We still need to determine what kind of grasshopper it is so we can label it. The other three were kept as pets. Yes, this child is in serious need of a pet. If only her father would agree…Last night, we observed one of them eating the grass that she put in there for food for them. This is her story of catching the first one (edited only to change names):

F4 and I were walking, then we stopped. We had seen a grasshopper. It was just standing there, flicking the occacional ants that went near it. I told F4, “you are not allowed outside alone. So I have to stay outside, while you go get the clear blue box.” F4 went of to get it, while I stayed. The grasshopper just sat, and it seemed he did not notice me, though occacionaly he looked at me. Then F4 came back with the box. I plopped it over the grasshopper effortlessly. There were ants in there, so I figured if he had to stay in there long, he would have food. The ants could get in and out easily, too. But then I remembered that, grasshoppers don’t eat bugs. They eat plants. So I hoped he woulden’t have to stay there awhile. I finaly caught him with a jar. He put his front legs up on the walls that surrounded him. There was a small wipe peice of alchohol in his jar. I felt horible trying to suffocate him!

F1 also caught two butterflies. The first was a Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, but its wings were so damaged, we didn’t keep it. The second was what we thought initially was a Viceroy. After gassing it with an alcohol swab and laying it out to dry, we realized that it was a Monarch. F3 compared it to the pictures in our Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and made the discovery! That was an exciting event. F1 pinned it to a piece of styrofoam and wrote out a short, very scientific description of the specimen.

I find it very enjoyable to compare the two personalities of these children. They are both highly intelligent and motivated to learn. What they enjoy learning about and the details that catch their interests, however, are completely different. F3 loves the story – the incorporation of all the senses, thoughts, and feelings behind the events and people she tells about. F1 likes the details to be short and sweet – how few words can he use to get the pertinent information across.

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