Thursday, September 22, 2016

Our Snack Store

  Another of Bonnie's inspired ideas is to have a snack store.  Right now, they have five pennies to spend that they are issued at the start of school. They practiced their fine motor threading skills on the second day of school by making little change purses.  Eventually, they will use other coins, learn to make change, be able to earn extra for premium snacks, etc.  Great way to practice math and real life skills! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Early Elementary History Concepts--Comparing Sources/Multiple Sources

Before we get into actual stories of history, we are laying some groundwork.  Too much for K-2nd graders?  Maybe.  But why not give it a shot?  So far, I am happy with their apparent grasp of the concepts I've presented.

For this first concept, we wrote (they dictated) the classic "what I did this summer" compositions.  Siblings were separated and when we came back together, we compared notes and observed which events only one sibling mentioned, which both mentioned, and which they both mentioned but with different details.  It was quite interesting!  I think I asked too many leading questions with my two students, but Bonnie did better.  At any rate, we talked about the fact that they had both had similar experiences but chose different things to highlight.  I asked whether we got a better idea of what happened that summer from just one person's story or from comparing two, and I'm happy to report that they said, "Two!"  So far, so good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just some general coolness

Today, just some pictures celebrating learning and creativity!  

                                                    Holding a grasshopper (after some ice cream, ahem...)
                                                           Bug eyes!  I was impressed...
Preschool with a special guest! 

Vinegar and baking soda mixing in the lab (yeah, I sorta missed the exciting part...)

             I love the elegant simplicity of this lion drawing.  His cousin didn't give it the praise it deserved and so it became a hurt my heart...

Friday, September 16, 2016

New School Library

We have acquired an amazing new bookshelf, so now we have a classroom library.  I had grand ideas of labeling and shelving them all according to Dewey Decimal, but I decided to use a simpler system for our little guys (this simpler system just happened to coincide with my running out of time and energy!). Each subject has a co-ordinating washi tape on the spine and it' spot on the shelf.  It's working well so far! We do have check-out cards in the backs of most of them and a stamp for checking them out.  We're trying to incorporate some real life/role playing in our centers.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

First Day of School 2016

I think I'll let the photos do the talking for this year's first day of school!  Technically, we did 25 days over the summer so that we could have a looser schedule throughout the school year, but we took a little break so that we could officially start the school year with a bang!

Last year, we studied world cultures, so I was excited to start off our first day with a book about first day of school customs in other countries.  I just wish there were some homeschoolers in it (although at least it is implied that one boy was homeschooled by his father for a time.

Ice cream pictures drawn with our new ice cream scented markers!

New math and game center

My sister made this amazing tree with a carpet roll, pool noodles, and packing paper! :O

Taking the bus to school for the first time....ha ha ha ha ha....

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Spitball Mancala

        Although "we did school today!" many times since the last time I posted on here, we also did a lot of other things, the most time consuming of which was selling our house and moving temporarily across the country for several months. 

         Now we find ourselves in sunny San Diego, far from the distractions of home, cranking out schoolwork like a boss, and then trying to entertain ourselves.  I delight in traveling light and using whatever I have on hand to make our toys and games (which I then discard when we pack up again.)  And so I bring to you....Spitball Mancala.  It's not really spitballs; I've never made a spitball in my life!  But it is rolled up wads of paper, solidified by soaking and then drying in the oven.  I've never been accused of doing things the easy way, so in keeping with my "let's make this 25 steps more complicated than it has to be" personality, I also painted them with nail polish (since I know I won't be using that all up before I go home!)  That was a gory looking business! 

          Of course, you can play mancala with holes in the ground, but we don't have ground; you can play with circles on a paper, but it's somewhat less convenient.  We had an 18 count egg carton.  Perfect!

         Instead of spitballs, you could use pennies; you could use beans; you could use marbles; you could use any tiny thing that you have a handful of, but we didn't have any, except tiny legos, which I thought of later. 

        "What a cool project," I thought to myself, "I can't wait to post this."  But the fact is, my kids didn't even finish the first game before it was shelved and they started begging for a show again.  Blah...better luck next time, Mumma. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fun with French--Twister

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     When I was a kid, I thought Twister looked like a really awesome game.  When I was a little older, I thought it looked like a really awkward game.  And then, when I was 35, I thought it looked like a fun way to practice a little vocabulary!  I'm not sure I ever played it before, but I did take a turn with the kids and I'm here to tell you that it hurts.  Kind of a lot.  You may be called upon to twist your body in unnatural ways.  My kids complained, but they also loved it!  Especially telling someone else what to do!

French Vocab:

la main= hand
le pied=foot
jaune=yellow (I find this one hard to pronounce for some reason.)

I don't understand why some adjectives have masculine and feminine versions and some apparently don't. Is that right?  The things I don't know about French are endless, so any help is appreciated!  But I do my best--better than no second language, I hope!  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Science--Nutrition Week

Enjoying custom made fresh juice.


The kid's filled a bowl with their choices of fruits and veggies for juice.

The kid's made their own healthy lunches. 

     Bee taught a great week on nutrition and healthy eating choices.  These are just the highlights! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

World Cultures--Hungary

Placing the stickers.

Auntie Bee showing us a vase that she got in Hungary.

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      This year, we are studying world cultures.  My favorite resources are picture books that tell a realistic story from a culture, both in modern and older times, revealing details through illustrations, phrases from the language, and so on without sacrificing plot.  However, that's not always easy to come by. We always find the country on the map and globe.  For Hungary, we did a page about folk dancers in our Usborne Sticker Dolly Dressing book and looked at a vase that came directly from Hungary in Auntie Bee's suitcase.  I probably could have had a more informative presentation prepared if I remembered that she had been there!  We also watched a youtube video of Hungarian folk dancers.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Squeezing Biceps and Triceps Into a Tight Schedule

      I know it's a problem everyone has: fitting everything into the day.  Lately I've been working out with weights while the kids do their morning centers.  Of course, I have to stop repeatedly to help someone with scissors or a book or a project...but it's a step in the right direction, I hope.  How do you get a little extra physical activity into your day?

I had to take a break from bicep curls to cut out this awesome superhero paper doll for my nephew--can you see the cape hanging from his shoulders?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Maple Syrup Week--Maple Field Trip


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     We have a great living history museum in the next town, Willowbrook, that has provided several field trips this year.  Maine and New Hampshire have Maple weekends every year, so the kids have seen modern evaporators before, even the latest reverse osmosis set-ups (not that they are ready to understand that technology!)  However, Willowbrook has historical equipment to check out.  We had read and very much enjoyed Little House in the Big Woods earlier this winter, so we had a solid background in old-fashioned sapping. 

Similar set-up to Grandpa's in the big woods.
The original sap set-up, wooden spile and hollowed out log.
Looking in a sap bucket.

Picture of old-time sap house

Collection of wooden spiles.

Feeding the evaporator with new friend.
Sap collector.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Maple Syrup Week--Sap to Syrup Ratio

     It was a fun event, but it was a messy event: we used gallon milk jugs to ferry 40 gallons of water from the kitchen sink to the big bathtub in order to visualize how much sap it takes to make one gallon of syrup.  (40:1 is the ratio I always learned, though one of our books said 35:1.  Not an exact science, I guess.)  This was a great opportunity to learn the word "ratio" and figure out a few.  (Note: I wrote it, they looked over my shoulder and figured out the answers.) We also talked a little bit about the relationship between the amount of work it takes to make syrup and the high price tag.  All I can say is good thing it was a warm day, because everyone ended up wet!  Too wet to take pictures...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Maple Syrup Week--Taste Test

Comparing real and "fake" syrup
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Early spring in New England means maple syrup!  We learned about maple syrup making by first reading several books about it. Next, we had a taste test!  We had waffles for lunch and tested them with "fake" and real syrup.  I really wanted to get a graded sampler like this:

, but I didn't get around to it.  However, upon inspecting our bottles, my sister and I discovered that we actually already had different grades, light and dark amber.  Since there are only three grades now, that wasn't a bad showing.   (There is no grade B--I can only assume we didn't want any syrup to get hurt feelings.  :)  In all honesty, though, some home boilers preferred B for it's strong flavor, so I guess it deserved a higher rating.)

     This was a great opportunity, or so I thought, for graphing the preferences of our taste testers, but I couldn't get my act together and pretty much everyone preferred real, anyway!  There was some disagreement about light vs. dark amber, though.

     As usual, I had a pinboard full of ideas that I didn't get to use.  You can check it out here. 
Everyone got in on the action.
We will probably revisit this topic every year, so I'll get my chance!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Immediately after starting this here new blog, everyone involved in our homeschool started falling ill, one by one, resulting in two weeks or more of not very exciting school.  Now I'm the sick one!  But fortunately, I was able to call in a substitute.  Of course, as a parent he's always a teacher, and had already taught them lessons in cleaning and cooking before tackling the book learning.  :)