Friday, October 21, 2011

Seasonal Homeschooling

Article: Seasonal Homeschooling

This time of year in North America is brilliance

of color and the crisp autumn breezes blow in

a longing for coming together and celebrating family.

Homeschooling in nature can be a teachers dream and

a child's playground. There is so much for the senses to


The smell of fires burning and apple, pumpkins and hay.

Feeling crunchy leaves, nuts, pinecones to collect for play.

Tasting apple cider, pumpkin pie and other tasty treats inspired

by the outdoors harvest.

Allowing children time to explore and commune with nature can be

the best “teacher” around. For, what could be better than a child

learning animal behaviors, finding birds nests and eggs by actually

experiencing life outdoors.

Here's a few tips for seasonal homeschooling.

*Use what is around you- learning counting or simple math? Use acorns, rocks, shells
or whatever is locally available. Collecting is part of the fun. Besides being economical,
it teaches what bounty is right in your backyard.

*Nature Journals can be a great way to document what is happening for an older child.
They can write and draw what they see while they are outside in their favorite tree.

*Use the festivals. Fall has many great festivals to celebrate and this is a great time to make a bonfire, roast some marshmallows and explore your nature area. Invite some other homeschooling families to make it really special.

*Create a Nature Table. A seasonal or monthly table to display current findings is a wonderful way to bring a hint of nature inside. Make sure to make safe for very young hands.

*Carve out Nature Time. Give your child “free play” time to roam, explore and just “be”. It is amazing what they will learn during this unstructured moments. Sometimes learning happens in the best more organic ways. ;)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Perfect Bread

I have tried for years to make a good bread by hand and each time have failed in one way or another. The bread doesn't rise has been my main challenge or it is all mushy inside (undercooked).

But, I was determined to find a recipe that would really help me step-by-step with wonderful ingredients to sink my hands into.

I found it! The blog Farm Fare had the perfect one for me.

It worked the first time, but just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I made 3 more loaves and to my delight (and my family's stomachs) we now have homemade bread in the pantry and freezer.

I plan to make the recipe (which makes 3 loaves) each Sunday so we may have our organic bread at a fraction of the price and honestly- I love the fact that I made it with my own hands. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Review

As we are passing the summer days, I spend time listening to the endless chatter of my
2 almost 9-yr olds. I notice a few holes in the learning and where a bit more help
might be needed.

They are both reading daily as they love it! So, this is helping them progress on.
I had planned on continuing the multiplication tables and will start this in the next week
or so.

We did a time review, as one of my girls was not quite getting how to tell the time
on an analog clock. I found a pretend clock with moveable hands I had purchased years ago and after a few minutes and lessons, she gets it!
It is amazing how when they are ready or just need a small review, the learning
happens magically!

I also got them each a spiral notebook where they can write messages to me. This is a great way to keep the writing going. I gave one of my girls 4 words (just picked any!) and she had to create a short story (3-4 sentences) using those words. Really fun! And she came back for more ;)

I have sifted through my stack of books for planning grade 3 and discovered a LARGE pile
of guides and stories I never got to during 2nd grade. I perused through and saw some things
I know would be beneficial. My solution? Use them as a review this summer or during those first weeks of the new school year.

I probably will do some of it this summer in a very casual way. Not "Here is our lesson". I may just start reading a story or draw a few words on a black board.

It is so nice to just know their skills so well, I can tweak or add as needed. More benefits
of homeschooling!

Would love to hear how your summer planning is going...leave a comment if you have a minute

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 4th Activities

We started sewing this lovely bunting with out friends from Atlanta.
Here are the steps we followed if you are interested in making one. It was very
basic if you have some sewing skills. I have always wanted to make one and now I plan
to do more for other festivals and seasons!

Here is the tutorial I used to sew these

Enjoy! Would love your comments and ideas for other colors or uses

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Riding down a southern country road

We started biking each morning before the heat sets in.

Today, we went a new way to our local grocery. Amazingly,
we discovered an unpaved road. There are still some around

So, here are the girls biking happily down a sandy, gravel street.

I love that we have many places that we can get to by bike. Though we
do have a busy street, Highway 17, we go the back roads or the bike trail.
We can get to 2 grocery stores, bank, my favorite coffee shop, several
restaurants, post office, the beach, a great consignment shop and the library!

A lovely beach town we live in. Wanna come visit? ;)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spelling & Reading Review

We have started reading again after a few weeks "down time" and I am noticing the holes
and places that need a little work. Having twins does not mean they are in the same place!

I got them new books to read and we have started playing games while walking or riding our bikes. I say a word and they spell, or we work on vowel sounds and how they fit into the words.

Today, I decided to get them each a notebook for writing back and forth with me. They are both in very different places with reading and writing, so this will not hold one back or make the other feel "behind". For my beginner reader we just wrote sentence back and forth, I did not correct the spelling, but if there was a word I didn't understand, she had to fix it. For my upper level reader, I gave her 4 random words and asked her to write a "story" using those words. What fun she had and a very cute story ;)

I plan to do some of this as well as after lunch reading in our hammock, to keep things fresh, but in a very relaxed state this summer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

Summer sun, summer sun we watch as you set Sending your long arms of light to the west Summer sun, summer sun you shine so bright As you begin your return to the night
-from Circle Round

We began the day with a sunrise on the beach. It was so magical and we saw 2 loggerhead turtle nests!

When we came back home we baked sun cupcakes with a sprinkle of darkness (chocolate chips) I got a great idea from the Circle Round book. The girls made time capsules with items like a letter to themselves, the top 10 things they love, pictures etc. to be opened next summer solstice. They loved this! They spent all afternoon working on it and even decorated the shoe boxes with suns. We also planted sunflower seeds saved from our sunflowers from last year.

Our day ended with a bonfire using our winter solstice Christmas tree. We did the turning dance around the fire and let go of any things we wanted to release (for hubby and me).
Magical day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fathers Day

The girls spent hours designing and creating a wonderful beeswax
"dad" in a fishing boat. Modeling our latest fishing boat adventures,
they added every detail down to actual fishing line for the pole!

We prepared a nice breakfast for daddy followed by a relaxing day, a bike ride to his favorite coffee shop for frapps, then my mom and dad came over and I cooked dinner! We even had homemade peach cobbler from local peaches.. it was a wonderful to treat him like a king for the day! (but I am glad he is back to cooking today!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Celebrations

We had a wonderful 1st Day of Spring. The weather was wonderful and we were able to
enjoy the day. We started with a Spring Poem.

Last year we saved pepper seeds from our garden, so we planted them today in our eco-pots. Still a bit cold here, we can bring them in if the nights get below 40.

Then, we picked our young lettuce from the garden for a spring salad. The girls went searching throughout the yard for other 'edibles' they could add... dandelions, mint, herbs, and viola flowers were selected.
Lily even went a step further and made her own salad dressing from water and herbs!

Lovely Day :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Planting the early garden

A few warm days and my hands are back into the earth tilling, weeding, digging and removing debris.

We had some winter veggies that didn't make it through our unseasonable cold winter. The broccoli made it and if we can keep the rabbits from munching the leaves, it should grow quickly.

New plants that went in include cabbage, lettuces, more broccoli, parsley. Seeds we sowed were snow peas, beets, spinach, swiss chard, and lettuces.

What fun to keep an eye on small shoots coming up just in time for spring!  more gardening coming soon...

Thursday, February 3, 2011


We had a lovely time making our own candles this year. As we had just finished talking about time, seasons and calendars, it was perfect for discussing Ground Hog day, coming of spring and how people in pasttimes used candles in their lives.

A few notes on candlemaking* get all supplies ahead of time and read instructions carefully. I found a nice library book called "Basic Candle Making" that was very helpful and had a lot of pictures. This is a long process that cannot be rushed and you can't stop in the middle. Give 3 hours or more.
Here we heated the beeswax until it melted in our make-shift double boiler.

 I stared the candle by dipping each wick for 1 minute in the hot wax. It made the wick stiff when it cooled. Then it was an "assembly-line" production. The girls each dipped and I would get the kinks out by running my finger down each candle to straighten it.

After about 10 dips they began to look a bit like candles. We made our own drying rack out of 2 chairs, a broom handle and a garden stake! The tiny ones on the garden stake became our birthday candles. So cute!

We ended up really needing more wax, because when they got to this point the wax was too low in our dipping can, that it made fat candles on the bottom and thin on top. But, we love them!  We finished by rubbing them slightly on some waxed paper and trimming the bottoms.

We are wrapping and giving them as Valentine's Day presents..
*note* we used a large Bushs Baked bean can to melt our wax in and it worked great. The only expense was for the beeswax blocks (much cheaper than the pellets and can be cut with a sharp knife) and the wicks.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Seasons, Calendar & Time Block

When I planned out my blocks for this 2nd grade year, I purposely set this block for January. The New Year celebration seemed to lend itself to this as perfect timing.
We started talking about the new year (think whole to parts)... then we went into Seasons. Of course, we have been talking seasons for years, but we started with Winter and then went around the year.

The Calendar we decided to make is more of a Wheel of the Year.. see my pic below. This is a beautiful way to illustrate the seasons with pictures and mark birthdays and other holidays and festivals.

They quickly learned the Months verse."Thirty days has September, April, June and November...."

Then we drew in our Main Lesson Books pictures of the months and a verse about each one. This was an extended lesson on writing for them. But, they loved drawing the monthly pictures. In most, they drew the same tree, but with different leaves and scenery depending on the month. Even though they knew the seasons, they seemed to really "feel" this by drawing it out.

We drew out a full calendar page for February in which we will document the weather and phases of the moon each day.

Time was a lot of fun to discuss. We talked about the ancient clocks:  shadow sticks, sundials, hourglasses and candle clocks and why people need to know what time it is.

Due to rainy weather, we made our own tree (tall candlestick) and used a flash light to demonstrate the sun rising in the east and setting in the west and how the shadows looked. The girls loved this! I think it turned out better because they could control the sun!

We then made a clock. (This was so easy and fun!) We painted our paper plates, drew on the numbers talking about minutes and hours and where they are on the clock. I brought in a lovely clock we have on the wall and showed them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Catching a Hummingbird

Saturday morning was cold with a chance of snow flurries, but that didn't deter us or Hummingbird expert, Doreen Cubie from setting our sights on catching a hummingbird.

We live in a temperate climate and about 4 years ago I noticed a little hummer still coming to our feeder well after Thanksgiving. I checked it online and that led me to Doreen's site. She lives about 30 miles south of me and was interested in coming and trying to tag our bird. It was magical! She caught our young male Ruby throat and my then 4 year olds were mesmerized! She returned the following December and almost caught another, but he outsmarted us!

Right after New Years Day, I noticed a male Ruby-throat at our feeder! We have had one of the coldest winters on record here, yet there he was. I changed out the frozen water and cleaned up the feeder. Then I saw him again last Tuesday and emailed her. It was perfect timing for her as she is traveling all over the south catching birds and she happened to be here this week.

She arrived at 7:30am and it was about 32 degrees. She said they usually come quicker when it is cold, because they need the sugar water to get going. She set up her bird-cage trap around our feeder.
 It only took about 10 minutes before we spied the hummer form my office window. He went to the cage and tried to get in, he went around to the door opening and flew in to get his morning "coffee". She has the door on a long piece of fishing line. When he flew in she pulled the line and the door shut. She carefully took him our and put in a mesh bag. Brooke got to hold him. See him at the bottom? His beak was sticking through and it felt like a sharp needle.
 Then Doreen takes him to her "lab" (back of her truck) and looked for any tags. We thought he may be our bird from a few years ago, as she had re-tagged many birds that return to the same place each winter. But he has no tag. He is a full male that weighs about 3.2 oz about the weight of a dime!
 She tagged his foot and then wrapped him in the toe of a stocking and fed him from my feeder. he drank and you could see his throat moving and his tongue!
 Here he is. His throat looked quite orange and she said that was an older male.
 Then we were done and ready to set him free. As before, the girls put their hands together and Doreen laid him gently in and removed the stocking. It takes him a minute to realize he isn't bound anymore. This one was really ready to fly away- he stayed only long enough for me to click this one picture, then flew off!
What magical fun! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Three Kings Day

We had such a wonderful day last week, I wanted to share.

I started by reading the story of Babushka from Family, Food & Friends. Then we made our Three Kings cake (gingerbread this year!) I strung up the 12 stars to represent the 12 Days of Christmas, as this is the 12th Day.  We sang the song of Babushka (Sing a Song of the Seasons) and I cut the cake into 4 yummy slices. Each of us chose a slice and Lily got the coin!

She is King for the Day.

On Saturday, we celebrated a Family Day by going to a quaint cafe and having a hot chocolate with  roasted marshmallows (toasted in front of us!) and then we went bowling!