Homeschooling

Happy Halloween….A Million Days Late

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Life….am I right?! I took these photos on the Wednesday before Halloween and it has taken me that long to just to get them edited and a looking nice! Yikes! It took that long because the wind and the sun were just not allowing me to take pictures that were worth a crap. On top of that…….well life happens! Things have been busy and with some attitudes here that needed adjusting, and lots of fun stuff going on, it just hasn’t happened! But I know that you my fellow humans of our insane world, will understand and not think its totally nuts to post these a million days late! I took alot of pics of our homeschool group for Halloween and they were all just adorable all dressed up! But I will spare you the hundred pictures of everyone…….wait…….no I wont! ūüėČ You know me better then that right?! Well I will start with my own girls so you see then first before you get board……lol Bunny was Nancy Clancy (in case you are unaware of who that is, it is Fancy Nancy all grown up. Click here to see). Pup was Strawberry Shortcake! We made all the costumes and had fun doing it! I think that the wigs really make it all work! So……I proudly unveil…….Halloween pictures:

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Hobbies Meet Real Life

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Have you ever had that realization that your hobby is just really hard to fit into real life? I love to be creative, to take pictures, to make cool stuff. But things like teaching kids, cooking food, and cleaning messes seem to take a lot of time! ūüėČ So much that sometimes it feels like I don’t have¬†those¬†stretches of time to devote to my random things. So I try¬†do what every busy mom knows how to do really well…..multi-task! Photography is one of my fun things that is a little easier to work with! Its all¬†about capturing a moment and telling a story¬†with that! So I set up my tripod and my camera exposure. Then I¬†took pictures of us working on our school work¬†together. I was sitting on our couch reading and doing some lessons and, with my remote, I would take pictures!¬†So I got to¬†work on my fun stuff while teaching really usful subjects to my kids! The results were interesting and it is a¬†good way to hold onto the daily realisty here! I don’t have pictures of us doing school work and since this is something that is a huge part of our lives it seems silly to not have some! The more I think about taking pictures, the more I realize that the pictures that speak the most to me, both that I take and that I see of others, are always the ones that are real. Where the family or the subject is engaged in something that is real and meaningful to them. Portraits are nice and look good on¬†a wall, but the photos that invoke true feeling in someone are the unstaged ones. I guess that means my style of photography is leaning toward lifestyle photography. Here are my pictures from our lesson. I did some edits on them, just in case you are wondering!

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What do you think? Do you have a hobby that you try to fit into the daily business of mommy life?

PS……I haven’t forgotten Halloween pics! I will post them next! ūüôā

Working a New Plan

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School has been very simple here of late. We have transferred out of Montessori work almost completely. Pup still does a bit here and there, like the hundreds board or the golden bead…..but really just to illustrate a point in the book we are learning from. She is as happy as can be learning Math from a book and so far she is doing amazingly! I am keeping a close eye on how well she is grasping the concepts, but so far she picking them up and able to use them at any moment! I am using the Orange Book from the Miquon Math series for her. Plus we have our large assortment of Cusinarie Rods that she uses daily with that. This year Pup is learning to read and with Bunny having such a hard time, I decided that I needed to have a program for Pup. We started All About Reading level 1 with her and she is doing great! She loves the readers and the games, an I am loving the short sweet lessons! ūüôā Another thing that we are doing this year is some at home religion instruction. For pup we are using the Image of God series book for Kindergarten. She loves it, I love it……what else can I say! ūüėČ Science has been a bit of an issue for me. I cant find a program that I really like and so far we are hanging in limbo. Right now our science is all about watching the monarch caterplillars we have turn into butterflies! Super cool and super fun, but we are just about done there. After that I am not quite sure yet!

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Bunny’s work is much the same as last years. We are using First Language Lessons for grammar and this year we are in the third grade book. She doesn’t love it and she doesn’t hate it……for grammar its good! I like that it focuses on the parts of a sentence much like the Montessori grammar boxes…..but without all the cutting. ūüôā For math she will be finishing up the Miquon Series. We are in the green book now, and she still loves it! She was able to pick it right back up after a summer off and keep going! She has a good head for math and this program allows that to shine. I got her a reading program this year as well. All About Reading Level 2 was supposed to be summer work, but we didn’t get to it! lol. So instead we are doing it now. This summer was epic because she started reading for real! She can read books on her own and I couldn’t be happier. If you have followed along here for a while you know that this has been a struggle years in the process! So the reading program is easy for here, but the tools they teach is worth going through for her. Spelling is All About Spelling level 2 (and hopefully 3) this year. We are moving ahead with that and it is working out……if its not broke don’t fix it right!?! History is Story of the World 2. She loves reading this and I love she is into history. I got the activity book, but aside from coloring pages, we don’t get to much of it. However, she is retaining it and loving it. Pup joins in on this too. Religion for Bunny is Faith and Life Series for third grade. We just read and discuss. She seems to like it and it does get us talking about stuff we may not have other wise gotten to, like prophets or angels. Science wise I am in the same boat as with Pup. Nothing is really jumping out as something that will work for us. I don’t want to focus on just one thing the whole year (¬†I think that they will hate it) so I am looking for something that¬†touches on¬†some of the main areas of science (chemistry, physics, geology, etc). I am will keep looking, but¬†until then there is butterflies!¬†ūüôā

So there you¬†have it! Simple, Sweet, Effective. This is our plan for the year! We are doing an art class with our homeschool group once a month and things like that, so there is other add ons, but this is the spine of our work this year! SO share some thoughts. What you doing? Did you stick to your stuff from last year or change it all up? I would love¬†to hear what you are doing (especially for science)! ūüôā

Pup’s Winter Animal Learning

At the beginning of the month, I decided that I would make a theme for Pup to work with since she had not been doing too much work. Since it was so¬†cold here, I thought that we could talk about what animals do during the winter! There are a ton of great printable packs out¬†there and I¬†printed a¬†few things off for her and¬†I had planned to have trays for her. But honestly I made two and she really didn’t do them. One was an animal sort by whether they hibernate, migrate, or adapt. We did that one time. Then we had a rolling dice game with charting! She did that a lot! I also made an art tray with natural materials for her to build some habitats. One day she used our glue gun (which she loved) to build a bunny forest and then we wrote a story all about it. She also has done some reading and writing with this. Another thing that we have done with this unit is make rod pictures with out Cuisenaire rods. She really likes doing this and I keep encouraging this! After all learning is play and she loves to be creative. We often dissect the picture and practice adding the rods together! This has led to a lot of adding work and she even starting to write stuff down! All in all it has been fun, but it has shown me that for Pup learning is going to happen with a few structured things, lots of books to look through, and creative elements to make her own things! Here are some pictures of our very “Pup like” unit study!

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Saint Inspired Science~ Engineering

Today we had our science get together and instead of doing our experiments at someone’s house, we decided to head to a science center nearby to do our engineering experiments there! Wow! The girls were over the moon about the trip. We started our learning off in the cafe reading a book about St. Patrick. He is the patron said of engineering because he helped teach¬†the Irish people build churches and buildings. So after our story, we talked about what engineering is. One definition that I read¬†that made the most sense was: Engineering is combining math, science, and experience to¬†build something that is useful. After some quick learning, we¬†headed into the engineering “department” to work on some of the experiments that were available. We started off working on building buildings that could withstand an earthquake. We tested them by using the shaker table. We also built bridges using sheets of paper, we build a 7 ft.¬†arch with large blocks, played with wind and propellers, and built an arched bridge that we could walk over. There was a lot of thinking and the team work was amazing! They were able to talk through their ideas and there were no hurt feelings! They are all getting so big! The girls worked especially hard on the paper bridge and they almost gave up. But they managed to get it worked out. One thing that we discovered is that little changed make a big difference! Always try to make a small change first! After doing the experiments, hunger set it and it was time to eat. We packed lunch and we were those fun parents at the tables. It was build your own lunch! Cheese cubes, pretzels, grapes, strawberries, and crackers made for¬†an engineer inspired lunch! For dessert we had gumdrops, Twizzlers, and toothpicks to create masterpieces to eat! There was, surprisingly, a lot more building then eating!¬† They loved it! When we finally got food in our bellies and the mess tidied up, it was off to explore all the other parts of the science center for fun! Lots of giggles, running, and exploring!

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Africa Study Learning!

Today we got together with our homeschool group and learned about Africa! It was my turn to plan and I really had a hard time narrowing down what to do! I love Africa as a continent, to be honest it just fascinates me! I really wanted to have some fun with the kids and let them play while they learn. What is a better way to learn then to immerse yourself in something and to live it for a bit? So after a review of some major African landmarks, animals, and waterways using the cards out of our continent box, we dressed all the kids in Kanga style African clothes. To be honest, I was really not sure how the kids would react, but they all loved it! Even the boys who are sometime a tough sell. Even I got in on the action and¬†dressed up! ūüôā¬†After we dressed up, I talked about the importance of beads in different African tribes and we made some beaded jewelry to complete the costumes! While they were beading, my mom set up lunch. We made some African inspired pork (it was a doctored a bit and SO yummy), some Ugali (corn mush which is served at most Kenyan meals), Fried Plantains,¬†and of course bananas! Plus we had Animal croakers (for all the animals in Africa) and some Little Debbie Zebra Cakes (for all the zebras of course)! After trying new foods and eating lots of old favorites, the kids were off to play house…..African style! I found some baskets and filled them with corn cobs, beans, sea shells, and “diamonds”! Plus there was some more fabric. The kids had a great time playing. I think that they set up a village. People who had the same colored Kangas were part of the same family! I think it went well and the kids had fun while learning. Here is what the fun looked like! What is your favorite way to learn about a continent?

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Lego Geography (again)

Well we had another great Lego class this week. Last class we learned about the North eastern states. This class was all about the north Mideastern states! The format was the same as last time. Each kid got a state (this time they worked in groups since there was such a large group of kids), a building plate, and a list of fun facts about their state! They then needed to build the outline of the state with legos and then find the capital on the map,¬†marking it with a brick. Finally they get to the fun part of building something that represents their state using the fact cards they were given. This time Bunny and my brother N. got the state of Wisconsin. They built the Green Bay Packers helmet, a giant fish for the fish hall of fame, a burger for the burger hall of fame, a typewriter because they were made there, and of course, some cheese! My other brother M. had the state of Kansas. He made a pizza on his state because it was where pizza was first served in the US. Finally V. had the state of Michigan. He built an epic lighthouse because there are the most lighthouses there then anywhere in the world. He and his partner also built a boat. Finally all the kids had a turn to stand in front of the class to show what they built and what they learned! I have been really happy to see that Bunny has been going up there and talk in front of people. She is often so shy it is interesting to see her growing up and being able to share her ideas! While I helped clean up, the kids all got together to build a fun race track¬†and cars! They love to build don’t they! ¬†Here are some pictures!

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Antarctica Study Time!

Today was our monthly homeschool continent study. Last month, we did Asia. Today we learned about Antarctica. I think that the biggest irony is that it was the warmest day we have had in 2 months! ūüėČ However, we still had a great time! We started off with talking about the continent itself while looking at beautiful pictures of the land. We talked about how it is the driest, coldest, and windiest continent in the world. We talked about snow and how even though there is a lot of snow on Antarctica, because it is such cold snow, if you ,melt it down it would only be a few inches a year! To see how that can work, we brought in some plies of snow to see how much water is there after it is melted. After that we started to talk about the people who are on the continent. None of them live there all the time. They are all mostly researchers and live in elaborate base camps that have all the comforts of home in their frozen environment! We also talked about how the researchers will often head out into the field to do research. While there they must take everything they need for their trip. This includes their food! Having so many Boy Scouts in my family, means that we have access to some MREs¬†(Meals Ready to Eat)¬†like the researchers take to eat while in the field. So we cooked some of those up¬† so everyone could try them. Let’s just say that they are not what I would try to eat. We also watched a movie that one of the people at the base camp took. They walk through the whole base camp so you can see what it looks like! Since we had some time before lunch, we got to make a penguin craft using thumb prints and paint. They loved making different scenes and getting a wee bit messy! ūüôā We ended the day with a very wintery lunch! Here are some pictures of all the fun! ūüôā

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So there you have it! Antarctica is ever a fascinating and frozen place, and yet there seems to be so much fun to be had learning about it! What are your favorite Antarctica learning activities?

Leftover Pumpkin Learning

So do any of you wonder what to do with those pumpkins that are leftover from Halloween? I don’t know about you, but we have one or two still decorating the yard that we didn’t carve in t Jack-o-lanterns. They will look just fine for¬†a couple more weeks, but I thought that using them for some fun learning would be another way to get a wee bit more use out of them before we compost them.¬†Some of these ideas are¬†from a long time ago, so enjoy seeing my much younger¬†“babies”!

 Bunny was interested in pounding nails and asked if she could pound them into the pumpkin. I said sure and away she went to get her stuff. What we learned is that pounding nails into a pumpkin is easy and fun! It is an awesome way to learn how to use a hammer and nail without the difficulty that comes with trying to get the nail started in wood. It was an activity that everyone wanted to get in on!!!!

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Another fun thing to do is pumpkin washing. Its an oldie, but a goodie! my girls have loved this activity a lot over the years. I would simple get a scrub brush, a bucket of water and a towel. If you want you can add soup too. The child dips the brush in the water, and scrubs the dirt off the pumpkin! Here are some pictures of Bug and Pup doing this a few years ago.

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Another one that we did a while ago, was cut a pumpkin apart sideways and explored the parts of a pumpkin. It was different then when we carve it because Bunny was able to play in it and really see all the parts! There is really something so exciting about being able to play in something that you don’t normally get to!

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So there you go! A few ideas of what to do with those pumpkins that are laying around still! I would love to add a few more ideas so share one below! How do you use those pumpkins?

Montessori on the move!

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With all the craziness of the past few weeks, I have been looking for creative ways to take Montessori learning on the road with Pup. Bunny is using more books, so it has been easy to pack up her backpack and head out. But with Pup we cant just pack up the whole classroom! ūüôā So we needed to think about it differently! After all we are homeschoolers! Sometimes we just have places to go and things to¬†do!¬†So what do we do? Well here are a few solutions that we have found useful!

First off, pinpoint those things that your child is really interested in. If she is loving her sandpaper letters, then make sure that you have something that works with that! Is she loving her sensory bins, then keep that on the list! Once you have pinpointed your kiddos interest, then figure out how to pack it up! Remember, you are going for simple, easy, and light. After, you are going to need to pack it! Plus, think about what you are going to have time for. If you are visiting grandma, and you want something that your child can do on their own, then don’t pack something new. If you are going to be somewhere a while and know that you will have time and space, pack something new! If you are on the road, then you need small that can be done in your lap! There are a lot of things to think about, but really it can work and be simple! So what can you take?

Sandapaper letters/ numbers~ Take some new one that you are still learning! They are easy to pack and a great way to learn. Want something even more portable, there is a sandpaper letter and number book from Montessori Services! Love it!

Math Beads~ So simple and fun! The bead stair can be used a million ways and is easy to take with you! Add some number cards and you got it made. They can count the bead bars and match it to the number card, learn bigger number, make patterns, do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You could even make pictures using the beads! There are a lot of fun activities if you just think outside the box. Plus these works can be done in a doctors office or anywhere else!

Tracing~ I love to take 4×6″ pieces of tracing paper with me and I usually have a small clip board too! Then, take some simple pictures with you to compliment whatever you are studying! This is an awesome way to include those three part cards or even the cards from the geometry cabinet! They can trace pretty much anywhere and if you have some colored pencils, they can color too!

Sensory Box~ What?!? Yes, you can make some mini sensory boxes to take with you when you are going to be out! All you need is a plastic pencil box that snaps shut! They just pick out some elements from your big box or make a small one as a surprise! Kids love it and it really isn’t too hard! If you child is older, take some legos, or blocks, or even some sewing! Whatever your child is into!

Practical Life~ Well now this is harder, but still I think that you could do it! If you are planning on heading to Grandma’s for the holidays or to visit, take the pitcher they can pour from or their rolling pin for making cookies. Plus don’t forget that there are lots of learning opportunities right where you are going be! There is a new bathroom with a different way of washing hands, or plenty of chance to meet and greet people! It may take you a moment to think through where the teaching moments will be, but the new experiences will be an amazing way to learn something new!

Reading~ Books can make any place a happy place in my opinion! Plus, if you have a budding reader, waiting rooms and quite places are a great place to practice! I love taking pink series reading cards with us! Pup can sound out the cards, and then find the matching picture. And it really is easy to pack. And there is nothing like a good story in a moment when tempers run high and everyone needs a break! So we never go far without a few books!

These are just a few ideas we have used to keep some learning going on while we are away from home! Another way that a lot of people Montessori while out and about is using apps on their tablets! There are a million great ones out there and it can be a good way to keep learning. We don’t use them much, but when we do the girls love it! So these are my thoughts, but I want to know what are yours? How to you take Montessori out when you have places to go? Share your ideas in the comments below!

 

 

 

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