Wednesday, January 27, 2021

We're Still Homeschooling

I know I haven't posted in quite awhile.  It's not that I haven't thought about it.  I even had drafts started for various posts . . . but you know . . . life and all.

The pandemic has made things a little hard in terms of outside classes & group activities, but hopefully one day we can look back and see that this past year hasn't been all bad.

I know I'm leaving some things out, but here are some of the activities we've been able to enjoy as a family . . . 

The Beach
When we moved, we were close to a "beach" on one of the Great Lakes.  A 25 minute drive to the lake, instead of 10 hours to the ocean seemed wonderful...though we quickly learned that the water here doesn't understand it's supposed to get warm in the summer!  Either way, it was a great opportunity for some nature study (especially beach glass, which the girls liked collecting) and just having something different to do during a year when there wasn't much else going on.

Nature Study
We've tried to continue nature study, as that's something we can do in our own yard.  Our hanging ferns received plenty of visitors, including the finches.  We think we had an intruder cowbird as well.  

One of the first things we did when we moved was buy a zoo membership--it was another attraction that we weren't used to having nearby, and we knew a membership would pay for itself in two visits.  Due to the pandemic, we've not used it as much as we hoped (they've closed, had limited admission, etc) but when we go, we try to focus on a different area.  This particular time, we made sure to spend some time at the temporary dinosaur exhibit, per the request of the youngest! 

Great Wolf Lodge 
We managed to surprise the kids with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, and it was a nice distraction from everything going on, and a fun way to celebrate a birthday!  

Family Walks/Hikes
We tried to make the most of nice weather and take some family walks and hikes.  

It's a good way to get out and exercise, explore the area and get some natures study in too!

Apple Orchard
We took an afternoon to visit a local apple orchard - we did the hayride, the corn maze, and of course picked a nice variety of apples!  Some children liked to climb trees, too.

Cranberry Marsh
This was such a fun trip!  We had to drive a couple hours to a cranberry marsh, but you could wade in the marsh and take a self-guided tour of the farm to learn more about cranberry farming. (I think they normally do guided bus-tours, but we made the most of it nonetheless.)  It was definitely a neat experience.

Of course we bought a lot of cranberries to dry and freeze for recipes at home, since it's hard to find them year-round.  

Mitchell Park Domes
We don't often do botanical gardens or conservatories, but this one was a good opportunity because it was close, relatively inexpensive for our family, and not crowded at all.  I'm not sure if that was related to social distancing and needing to reserve a spot, or because it was a weekday, or both, but we only saw two or three other visitors the whole time!  It was actually a neat trip though.  There are three domes with different themes.  The Show Dome has changing exhibits - we went during the fall and the temporary exhibit was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow!   (Yes, I later read the story to the kids!)   It was a fun mystery throughout, and the kids solved the mystery! 

I'd have loved to go back during the Christmas season to see the poinsettia exhibit, but we didn't make it.

The second dome was the Desert Dome.  It actually had some Day of the Dead stuff set up too, so I guess they sometimes do thematic/seasonal displays in the other domes too.  The kids liked reading about all the cacti.   

The third dome was the Tropical Dome.  It was full of waterfalls, a koi pond, and we saw various fruit trees too! Such interesting displays!  I really liked this field trip, and would definitely go back.  

Halloween was a little different this year, but I'm really glad the weather held off.  We had a black cat (she picked a cutesy costume from a children's clothing store rather than a "realistic" one, but it does have a tail too), a witch, and a creeper.  The oldest hasn't trick-or-treated in a long time, but some of the neighbors insisted he pocket some candy!  

The winters here are...dreary.  The snow never melts, and just when you think it's going to warm up and start melting the snow, the temps drop and it snows another half a foot or more.  However, my kids don't seem to mind.  They still go out and play in, but it's even better when we take them to a sledding hill!  

Everyday Homeschooling
Of course, we still do the math, the map drills, the grammar, the art, the readings and everything else.  The everyday homeschooling must go on after all. 

As far as curriculum and lessons and all that fun stuff, I think I'll try to share a little update about each kid's individual journey soon.  The kids are now Kindergarten, 2nd, 6th and 8th grade, so I've got a wide range of curriculum and books flowing past me every day, but I still love it!  

{Some of the links on my blog will not be working until they are updated, as I am just keeping this as a journal and do not feel the need to keep a paid domain any longer.   If you find an old link ( you'd like to visit, you can just add the blogspot to make it until I get around to updating them all.}

©2011-2021 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Snowy Day (Before Five in a Row)

When you have a big snowstorm, you have to do something fun to go with it!

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We quickly learned during our first winter in the midwest that snow doesn't really melt away, but it's definitely more fun to play in fresh snow, so when I saw the forecast, I thought it would be a good opportunity to have some new adventures, like Peter from The Snowy Day! Although it took me awhile to get around to posting this, and we're finally flirting with spring weather!

Anyway.  We did a few printable activities throughout the week, because she requests them.  (Links at bottom of post.)  For full size "worksheets" I usually staple them together like a book, instead of taking up multiple pages in her notebook.  We don't do all of the pages in any of the units - I pick and choose.  We usually do one or two with letters (identifying and/or writing or tracing), and something to cut/color, and this is her "academic" focus for the week.  Just taking pictures of worksheets is kind of boring, and usually she's doing those while I'm working with another kid.

We mostly focused on the letter S for the week.

She also did this clothing/sorting activity from the Five in a Row Fold'n Learns.  It was a great activity to follow up the weather chart she did in Jesse Bear.

We did the "homemade puffy paint" activity that you see floating around Pinterest--equal parts shaving cream and white school glue.  Paint your picture and place a Peter cutout on before it dries.

It was super cute when it was fresh, but I wasn't the Good Little Social Media Mommy and didn't get a picture of it then.  Instead, I went to get a picture a few weeks later and realized it had dried up and flaked off.  Not pretty.  My recommendation is just to use white paint.  Keep it simple!

The art activity in the manual suggested studying Keats' illustrations, and doing torn-tissue paper art. It does need to be art paper so that the colors will actually bleed.  She enjoyed ripping the paper and "painting" it with water.  We sealed it with Mod Podge afterwards.

Of course there was lots of outdoor play.  She made tracks, snowmen and snow angels . . .

. . . and she made snowballs and at one time was hoarding her "pearls" in a corner of the yard!

 She also had her brother make her a snow throne!

We also enjoyed some special video tie-ins during the week . . .
The Snowy Day on Amazon Prime (inspired by book)
The Snowy Day Amazon Prime (book being read aloud)
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats (Whistle for Willie also available on Amazon Prime)

There are many other Keats books available, or of course books about winter/snow that could tie into this row.  It was a light week of fun play, because as I've mentioned, she's not compulsory age, and I want these early years to be joyful and playful.

Printable Resources
Winter Unit from PreKinders (play-doh mat, pattern block pages)
The Snowy Day from Homeschool Share
The Snowy Day Printables from Homeschool Creations
Five in a Row Fold&Learns (you just need to subscribe to their blog)
Peter Template from Primary Theme Park
Snowy Day Inspired Coloring Page

You can also see my first row of The Snow Day with her older sister, who was 3 at the time.

©2011-2020 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A Peek into our Homeschool: January/February 2020

I haven't done a monthly recap in so long!  In fact, I haven't done one since we first started the new school year in August.  Crazy!

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I mentioned recently that we had a move for husband's work, and of course that messed with the routine and momentum of our school year.  We're still working on getting into a new routine, which has required shaking up things with our curriculum choices.

The kids are currently 7th, 5th, 1st and PreK and I'll be sharing a little bit of what we've been doing for each of them!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Seventh / Fifth Grade

The biggest change is for my 5th and 7th graders!  We are going unconventional for a few months, and pausing their chronological history stream for now.  First we read The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, just because we needed something fun and light to get us back into the swing of things, and we used bits and pieces of a LitWits Unit to accompany it.

Social Studies
Now we're diving into a Government/Civics/Elections focus.  With it being an election year, I wanted to make sure the kids know what's going on as we're being bombarded with debates, primaries, and political ads. We're reading Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America by Teri Kanefield and are using parts of this Novel Study from Teacher's Pay Teachers.  I'd originally purchased the book for my 5th grader's Battle of the Books co-op class, but we moved before he read this one.  I chose the novel study because it was the only thing I could find online specific to the book.  No free studies abound, like with classics.  I'll be able to assess the quality better once we get further into it.  We'll probably read some supplemental books about Hamilton's contemporaries, and follow up with an election unit study.

Otherwise, the boys are continuing to read biographies and/or literature from the AO years they were using or that are related to the general time period they were studying in history before we paused the chronological history study.  Not all of these books are AO book selections--the idea is mostly that they continue the momentum of the general time period, since I'm undecided on which direction we'll be taking next year for history.

5th Grade - He was using AO Y4 and studying 1700s through American Revolution
Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia (finished)
Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution (current)
Robinson Crusoe (finished, but listened through librivox)
The Incredible Journey (current)

7th Grade - He was using AO Y6 and studying modern history
Ordinary Genius: The Story of Albert Einstein (finished)
various Civil Rights articles (finished)
Rosa Parks: My Story (current - afterwards I intend to have him read about Claudette Colvin and discuss their roles in the Civil Rights movement.)
Snow Treasure (current)

Also, I read Free At Last! The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. aloud to everyone, including the first grader, which is why I chose a shorter/easier book for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Poetry - We restarted Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization after it being tucked away for a few years, and I almost forgot how much I love it!

Free ReadsI also ask the boys to read a book of their choice for at least half an hour most days.  I don't require the book be from the AO free read list, but rather this is where they can choose books based on their interests!

For Mathematics, they're both using CTCMath (my most recent review) and I still like it for its simplicity and ease of use.  They can work independently, but of course I am available when they need clarification or assistance.

For Language Arts, they're both doing narrations, and cursive copywork.  My 7th grader is using Easy Grammar Plus (review) and my 5th grader is using Spelling Wisdom.  We also do MadLibs over lunch sometimes, and all the kids love it!

Science and Geography
5th Grade - I had assigned Rocks, Rivers and the Changing Earth: A First Book about Geology (instead of Madame How and Lady Why) and he's continuing that.  The activities throughout the book are self-explanatory, so he usually does those on his own.

Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
He is reading the book, doing the mapping activities (we have the Beautiful Feet Books Geography through Literature guide and maps), and we do some of the discussions and look up interesting topics like snapping turtles, mound builders, etc. 

7th Grade
I decided to have him start fresh with The Mystery of the Periodic Table, while using Sabbath Mood Homeschool's Chemistry Study Guide for Forms 3-4 (7th-9th grade) so we could have some guidance.  The guide schedules out the readings, encourages written narration--with occasional prompts, has hands-on activities, and supplemental video and reading suggestions. A lot of his focus this semester has been going to keeping his notebook--particularly, learning to thoroughly document the activities.  I want him to have a good understanding of this before we hit high school and actual lab sciences.  I intend to write a separate post later detailing our overall experience once we are further into it, but so far I like it.

Map Drills - The boys use Stack the States and Seterra Maps to review geography.  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

First Grade and PreK

I switched my first grader back to Five in a Row and we're both loving it!  She's begging to do school again, and I'm not dreading it!  This covers Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, applied Math and Art.

The youngest is using Before Five in a Row.  I could, in theory, combine them and just let her come and go as she pleases (she is not compulsory school age), but it's working well to give her something of her own when she's interested.

I'll continue to share our rows as I can!

For Language Arts, my first grader is continuing to work through Logic of English Foundations, which is my absolute favorite reading program!  She reads aloud to me to continue building fluency, and I continue reading novels, poetry, fairy tales and more to both girls!

For Mathematics, my first grader is using 200 Essential Math Skills for 1st Grade (review) but both girls will occasionally ask for CTCMath and the lessons are short and to the point.

In Other News
We've had plenty of snow play these last two months.  Snowmen, snowballs, building small hills for sledding, and snow thrones!

Also, we have a few new pets.  The 10 year old acquired two mice.  They are Cheerio (white) and Coffee (brown), and as our resident animal whisperer, he's working on taming/training them.

The girls got a new hamster.  His name is Freddy.  Freddy the Teddy, as he's a Syrian "Teddy Bear" hamster.  This is Teddy having play and snack time in his playpen.

So that's what we've been up to lately.  With the winter weather and sickness, we haven't been out and about much, but hopefully we're turning a corner!

©2011-2020 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.