Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: changes

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

 In my life this week...We got baby chicks!  We have had our baby chicks for almost 2 weeks, and it's still so fun to hear their little chirps.  You can see pictures of them here at Our Chicken Journal.  The kids ask to hold the chicks at least daily, but I'm thankful that they aren't over bearing wanting to hold them all day long.  So far having baby chicks has been a wonderful experience for the kids, and we are learning a lot!

In our homeschool this week...I decided to nix the workboxes.  I have been feeling like the workboxes maybe aren't working for us, just creating too much busy work.  But, I love them, and I will miss them.  I keep having these panic attacks when I think about them being gone too.  I feel like one of my best organizational tools for homeschool just up and left.  I'm still trying to find my ground without them.  We'll see.  I can always bring them back.  That's what I keep telling myself, breathe.  I just want to see how we do without them.

In other homeschool this week we started reading The Easter story, doing some activities that go along with each day's reading, and learning some scriptures.  One day we made palm branches out of construction paper, and practiced saying "Hosanna".  The little boys really liked that.  I love those sweet moments!

Places we're going and people we're seeing...we went to the dentist this week.  All 3 older kids got checked out.  They love going to the dentist.  They go to a really neat children's dentist that just has such a fun atmosphere complete with toys, cool rooms with themes, and of course prizes at the end.  It was Aric's first time actually seeing the dentist, and he did great for the cleaning.  Since he was so reluctant, they didn't push anything else.  They all checked out with no cavities, yay!  They love being a part of the "no cavity club".  I don't know how they have such perfect teeth.  Really, they don't brush consistently.  I'm thankful though!

My favorite thing this week was...the drawings and pictures that the kids made of their baby chicks.

What's working/not working for us...the way we currently school is not working for us.  Like I mentioned earlier, the workboxes, and other things.  Getting through the school day seems to be a hit or miss, and that needs to change.  I'm in the middle of re-shaping our homeschool yet again.  I find that I'm doing this often, and it's good I guess.  I just wish I could find a groove and stick with it.  I think we are getting closer though.

Questions/thoughts I do I organize the kids' school work?  I loved that the workboxes were a nice physical place to store the books and papers for each child for each day.  Now I feel like I just have stacks of books and papers that I have to dig through to find what we need to work on next.  I don't like that.  Maybe I'll use some sort of folder system.

I'm reading...a lot of random things.  Books about caring for chickens.  Trying to get back into "The Little House on the Prairie".  And, of course, always reading lots of blogs.

I'm cooking...not much this week

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

Our salt dough tomb, which was loved and played with a lot by the 3 year old Aric (which is why the round stone is broken).  Aric and April had fun making it, and we even pulled out our nativity characters like she did at Almost unschoolers.  She explains well how the characters from the nativity are also fitting for this story as well.  In the Easter story there is also an angel, Jesus wrapped in cloth, Mary is present in both stories, and the man can represent a lot of other people present at the time of Jesus' death.  Aric plays with it a lot.  He likes to call it his "tomb".  We clearly didn't cook it long enough, I should have read further into the instructions, which is why the round stone broke.  This was a great activity, one I hope to do for many years as a tradition.
This activity was from Almost unschoolers.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

deconstructing a typewriter

 You know what's really fun?  Taking stuff apart to see how they work!

We had an old typewriter that needed to go somewhere.  It could have went to goodwill, but it had paint spots on it from paint that leaked all over it, and I couldn't find the cover.  So, instead I just let the kids have at it and take it apart.  They LOVED it.

First they had fun taking the keys off with keys, ha ha!  I just realized that as I was typing it.  Under the individual keys there were cool little springs, the kids liked those.

It took some time to really get it apart and get to the inside.  But, once we were in there it was pretty impressive to see the inside workings of a typewriter.
I let the kids each keep a few parts for fun.  As you can see here, Aric has the plate the the keys were originally on.
This part was pretty cool to see.  The letters, symbols, and numbers that were used to make the typing.
We were all amazed at all the pieces and workings of a typewriter! 


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


We are officially on spring break right now, but we had to do something fun for the first day of spring!  I'm pretty excited for spring, especially some more spring-like weather. First, we have some new homeschool pets.  I'm not going to say what they are yet, but give me some guesses!  We have been having fun with these new creatures in our house, and they sure are cute.  The kids have been holding and loving them, and of course they are housed in our dining room/school room right now.  As I was making new space for them I decided to write this on the chalkboard, because it was so spring-like and happy making some space for our new friends.

April loved it.  She loves things like that, so I knew she would.

There's a lot of pink outside right now, so I thought it would be fun to try the apple blossom painting with a soda bottle that I found on pinterest.  Ours certainly didn't turn out as beautiful, but they are truly unique.  Also, I realized that we needed a smaller pop bottle not a 2 liter, to make the blossoms.  Oh well!




That's about all that was lovely and bright on this very dreary and gray rainy day.  Most of the day was spent inside, and I had no desire to go anywhere.  Probably wouldn't have if it wasn't for April's horse lessons!  I also felt pretty tired most of the day, and didn't hardly get any projects done on my long list of spring break projects to get done.  Hoping the 2nd day of spring is a little more exciting!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring books

It's book sharing Monday again, so I had a few Spring books that we read recently and an art project to go along with one of them for stART.

The first book is Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.  Our copy is a big board book so it stands up pretty well :-)  It's about all the different colors of a garden and how they plant "the rainbow" each spring and watch it grow.  It flips through each color and has some examples of flowers that might be found with each different color.

I've been working on the rainbow a little bit with Aric, my 3 year old.  He has loved learning about the colors in the rainbow.  He liked reading this book too.


Then, he made a rainbow with pipe cleaners and playdough for the "clouds".  He liked this.  He also took it apart and did it again. 



The other book I wanted to share is Winnie the Pooh's Easter by Bruce Talkington.  I found this book at Goodwill recently.  It has such a cute story about how they find a giant Easter egg, and in classic Winnie the Pooh style they paint themselves like Easter eggs in hopes that they might be able to make the egg more comfortable.
A quote:

"Piglet resembled a very small, very red apple, while Owl was a sky blue color with a trim of fleecy white clouds.  Gopher was the color of a ripe banana, and Eeyore was decked out in lavender polka dots."

I always love a good Pooh bear story!

I am linking this up to stART, and book sharing Monday.

Linking up also to Hey mom look what I did:


Friday, March 16, 2012

Nature study: pansies

Outdoor Hour Challenge from Handbook of Nature Study...

I think this first picture about sums up how excited my boys were about doing this pansy nature study.  They were so thrilled to be able to go to the garden center and pick out their very own pansy flower.  April was at piano, but she was pretty excited that we picked one for her too.  I put them on a tray so we could have them inside while we study them.  We may get a chance this weekend to plant them, but it has been so wet and rainy.

So, I was very excited about this nature study too because I knew where to find pansies!  And, they are so pretty.  I wanted to learn more about these flowers that we see all the time.   Boy did we learn a lot!

Like I said, this is a pretty excited kid.  This was the night after we bought the flowers.  Our nature study was going to be the next day.


We started with a walk.  I actually hadn't planned a walk because it has been so stormy and rainy.  It even snowed a little this week!  I didn't think the rain would let up, but it did!  And, it was a beautiful walk.  I was so glad that we actually got some outdoor time.

The kids were so excited to see all the beautiful blossoms just popping, and to see them up close.

This white tree had some limbs down low.  The rest of the tree is really high, but the kids found a low limb in the shrubbery.  So neat to see them up close.

They picked some...

I loved how Aric was showing me his 2 little blossoms.

We were on the look out for pansies, but we didn't see a lot.  We saw lots and lots of daffodils though...

When we arrived home we did some more pansy fun.  It was lunch time so I fixed the children lunch, and then while we were eating I read to them parts from the Handbook of Nature Study.  While I read they observed the pansies, and looked for the face.  They all saw the face right away.  Then we pulled one of the flowers apart to see the pansy man.  My kids thought it was funny that the flower had a pansy man.  Aaron was a little confused at first and thought there might be a real little man in there.  It really helped them to see when I took the petals off.

Then each child drew, or colored for the 3 year old, a picture of a pansy.  This is April's journal page.  She didn't think she could draw a pansy at first, but then she was amazed she did it!

Aaron wasn't sure he could do it either, but I told them to just keep trying.  They could certainly do something if they tried.  He set to work, and really wanted to make a nice picture.

This was his result.  He was very proud of himself!  He would check back with his flower to make sure he was drawing the details as correct as his 5 year old self could.  He even put a little black outline because there really was a thin black line all around the flower itself.

I found a purple pansy craft on dltk kids so that is what Aric did for his pansy picture.  He decided to make his blue though, like his flower.

Here is his finished pansy.  I had to help him color the darker parts a bit more.  I think we also got the bottom part of the mouth the wrong color, it was supposed to be dark blue as well.  Oh well.

We did one more little experiment for fun because we learned that pansies are edible.  I didn't want to make them just eat one because I wasn't sure if they'd go for that, so we made pansy ice cubes instead!

I had each child pick a flower off and put pieces in the ice tray, then I put water in it to freeze and try in a glass of water later. 

Time for the taste test.  The ice cubes looked really pretty, but I had a hard time getting a good picture of it.



The results...not bad!  Actually you couldn't really taste anything.  Maybe a little hint of bitter, but it tasted like water!  They all liked drinking pansy ice water though.

This study was so fun, and I'm so grateful to Barb for the inspiration and ideas.  You should check out her blog for some great nature study ideas if you haven't already.  Just click here.

The Homeschool Journal: Baby grows

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week...I now have a toddler who can climb on everything, and he certainly thinks it's fun to do so.  He gets on the table and dances around with a big smile on his face.  I've had to take the chairs away from the table, and nothing is safe if there are chairs there.  It makes school, meal time, and crafting time quite the challenge.  Also, in the last week this cute little 14 month old has gone from baby to official into everything, no longer content to just sit back and take it all in toddler.  It's a good thing he's cute.

In our homeschool this week...I don't feel like we accomplished much, but I know we did.  We had a lot of spontaneous projects, and that counts for most of our week.  We use workboxes, and I filled them once.  It seemed to take 3 days for them to get through that school work.  But, even so, they did a lot of non-box work.  April made an oreo pie, we deconstructed a typewriter, we had an awesome nature study about pansies, we made it to the library, Aaron is working on a lego lapbook, and the legos were out just about every day for the boys.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice...Relax!  I find that if I don't relax, I'm rushing the kids through their day and it makes everyone unhappy.  Also, relax, while kids are learning.  Don't worry too much about all the things that aren't getting done.  Especially when it comes to housework.  Sometimes you just have to let it go.

I am inspired by...the homeschool co-op that we just finished a few weeks ago.  Rather than sign up for it again I was inspired to offer the same kind of "fun" classes for my own kids right here at home, and change them up every 6 weeks or so.  It was too much of a hassle with my little boys at a co-op, but I loved the idea of focusing on a certain subject for a "class".  So we are going to start Friday school where we have our fun school day.  I'm hoping to figure out stop-motion movie making for one of them.

Places we're going/people we're seeing...April had horse riding lessons.  We made it to the library, and we went on a nature walk.  We had some homeschool friends over too on the same day as horse lessons.  We are also excited to go to the spud race at church tomorrow, the kids get to make a car out of a potato and race them. 

My favorite thing this week was...Freezing pansy flowers in ice cubes and then letting the children take a taste of the pansy ice water.  They thought there was going to be a huge flavor change, and not taste good.  They were surprised, and had fun.  By the way, pansies are edible.  That was the whole reason we did that.  It was a fun lesson.

What's working/not working for us...having the tv off during the day works!  I just wish we could be better about it.  What's not working for us is most of Aaron's curriculum.  He's bored, so therefore he doesn't like to do school.  Although, maybe it's not his curriculum/school work.  He just likes to do his own thing, and getting him to do anything school related is still a struggle.  His math definitely needs a change too.  Trying to figure out how to get this Kindergardener more interested in learning and reading.

Questions/thoughts I have...Should we take a spring break?  We have had so many off days that I don't know if we should.  We have so much to catch up on.  I'd really like to get some spring cleaning and organizing done though.  Also, what should we do for next year? That is heavily on my mind lately.  I am eying Sonlight.  I've heard so many good things about it, and I'd love to have a more literature rich curriculum.  Don't know about paying that much for a curriculum though.

Things I'm working on...I have a little quilt that I started for Aric (my now 3 1/2 year old) when he was a baby.  I pulled it out and decided it needs to be finished.  I thought that I might just give it to Alex now that Aric is almost grown out of it, but Aric asked me if I was working on his quilt.  I couldn't tell him otherwise!

I'm reading...Teach your own by John Holt and Patrick Farenga.  This book has a lot of good thoughts about homeschooling, and has helped me to realize and remember some of the reasons I have chose homeschooling.

I'm cooking...Corned beef and cabbage for the first time.  I'm a little unsure about what to expect because I've heard it's fun to have at St. Patrick's day.  We are having it today because we will be at the spud thing tomorrow.

I'm grateful for...A husband that provides so much for us, and 4 wonderful kids.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

It doesn't look like much, but this oreo creme pie that April made was scrumptious.  The boys started ordering this for their birthday instead of cake.


Aaron and I worked together on his snap circuits, and he played with it for quite a while after we set it up.  This project was called the "screaming fan".  He liked how the sound and speed of the fan changed as he played with the switch.

Monday, March 12, 2012

lego quest and creations

These are the kids' latest lego creations, and the first one we submitted to lego quest.  It's a hairbrush.  The challenge was to make a functional household item.  The picture we had to submit had to show the item in action.  April came up with the hairbrush on her own, such a good idea!

April's hairbrush in action...

The hairbrush...

This is Aaron's creation.  He likes to make things with wheels, but it didn't pass as a useful household object, just something fun.

This is Aric's.  His always seems to include some of his "Cars" characters in some way.  He loves his "Cars" characters.  Here we have mater and Holly Shiftwell in the combo vehicle. 
Lego's are pretty awesome.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Be careful on pinterest!

Did you know that there are some blogs and websites that do not allow you to pin their things?  And, legally they can say don't pin, or else.  I didn't until recently.  I came across some blog posts and articles recently that have brought this to my attention.  It annoyed me at first.  A lot.  Mostly because I just didn't know.  I didn't see how it could hurt anything pinning someone's things since it links back to their blog, and it would bring people to their website.  If you want to know more about the whole situation you can go to this blog:  Corkboard Connections.  It's where I found this permission to pin button...

As I am going through all of my pinterest boards trying to find which pins are okay to have pinned, and which are not, I am finding it very helpful when a blog or website has a permission to pin that's very obvious.  So, you have my permission to pin here!  Not that I really have any great things that anybody would pin, but just in case...

Happy pinning!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

stART: Outer space

We have been doing a unit on space and the planets, so our story and art project this week went along with it.  I came across the book from Cat in the Hat's learning library called There's no place like outer space by Tish Rabe while searching for books to read with our unit study.  It's a new addition to our home library, and I am glad we got it.

Here is a glimpse of the inside.  The cat in the hat shows the children each planet, and a few other things in our solar system.
Our project was making the solar system of course!  I had a big foam poster board that we lined up planets on.  First we figured out what order the planets went in.  The board almost wasn't big enough for the planets we had!

April painted a sun, and Aric helped me do the letters. 

I found the printables for the planets here at 1+1+1=1.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Saw it on Pinterest: Firemen!

We went on a field trip last Friday to the fire station, so I decided it was the perfect time to do the handprint firemen craft I found on pinterest.  The craft was originally pinned from Tippytoe crafts.  I loved how they turned out!  Aric did most of his by himself.  About the only thing that Aaron contributed was his handprint :-)  He's not a big crafter...



Friday, March 2, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week...
I have felt particularly grumpy and grumbly this past week.  I shouldn't have been, and I tried to keep it to myself most of the time.  It didn't work all the time though because my grumpiness did rub off onto my kids a little bit.  I can always tell when I'm off because it really does set them off and before we know it we're all grumbling at each other.  We did have some good times this week too though.

In our homeschool this week...
We mostly worked on our solar system lapbooks, and have been learning a little bit about the planets.  We played some games like candyland, and star wars guess who.  We read some Dr. Seuss books.  I stewed a great deal about what kinds of things we could do on Dr. Seuss's birthday, but couldn't decide what to do.  We ended up reading The cat in the hat goes to outer space, and gluing planets on a big poster board to show our solar system.  It turned out to be a fun project.  Not the big hoopla I had hoped for, but it tied in well with all the other space things we were doing.  We also colored lots of Dr. Seuss hats throughout the week.


Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...
Keep it simple, and don't do things just to do them.  I think that's enough said.  Oh, and remember to laugh, especially during the grumpy days or weeks.

I am inspired by...
Mostly right now blogs, and pinterest.  I find so much inspiration from so many great homeschool blogs, and it keeps me going some days.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
We had co-op on Monday.  Then we joined some of the co-op friends on Wednesday at sky high, a place where you can literally bounce of the walls.  The place is covered with trampolines, and they even have them on the sides.  The kids had a good time, and it was a good mid-week stress release.  The kids only jumped for an hour (you pay by the hour to jump), and they were worn out!  Then today (Friday) we had a homeschool field trip with a more local group to the Firestation.  That was a lot of fun.  It's always fun to see those big fire trucks.

My favorite thing this week was...
Surprising my kids by taking them to sky high.

Things I'm working on...
I made homemade laundry soap for the first time this week!  You can read about that adventure here at my family blog.

A photo to share...
I made this cat in the hat out of clay with my 3 year old.  He didn't like it.  Not the best clay creation, and we ran out of clay so that's why he has pipe cleaner hands and tail.  Maybe I'll stick to paper creations :-)

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