Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Lapbook

I did the unthinkable in my classical, Charlotte Mason world. I did a semi-unit study. I decided to try something different because I knew my kids would love it.

This week we chose a light load and focused on putting together a lapbook. This is something that has always appealed to the "want-to-be-a-fun-mommy" side of me. I decided I would research the internet and put together my own. I used this YouTube video to learn how to use file folders to make a lapbook. I then used mainly these two blog articles to find my resources.

Refined Metals Academy

Oney Family Adventures

We labeled the Mayflower.
We mapped the Mayflower's journey and discussed the Mayflower Compact.
We read and colored a mini-book and compared Pilgrims and Native Americans.
The following pictures are J.J's. He pretty much did the same thing with a little extra help.

We discussed how Squanto helped the Pilgrims.

Of course, I couldn't leave good books out of the equation. To prepare us for our lapbooks, we read the following books.

Squanto: Indian Adventure
Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving
N.C. Wyeth's Pilgrims
If you sailed on the Mayflower in 1620

In the end, I would definitely do a lapbook again. Both Lily and JJ really enjoyed the activity. Next time, I'll buy one  and save myself the time of putting it together myself.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Week One in Pictures: 2014/2015

I won't be updating weekly. I will have a ton of enthusiasm for a few weeks as the new year starts and by January I will have forgotten I have a blog. That's just the way it is. Hopefully, I will do better at journaling the more interesting things we do throughout the year.

We've had a fun week though. Here are a few of the highlights.

Our first day of school! Christian appears happy, right?
Anna is doing some preschool work. This is making our days go much smoother. We work in a Rod & Staff workbook, About Three, and read a book or work a puzzle. She gets my time first and this seems to make things smoother.

JJ is blowing through Math-U-See Primer. We're already on Lesson 3 and everyday he wants to do more math problems!

Our current read-alouds

I love this wooden crate I found at Wal-Mart to keep our current curriculum, books, and field guides in.

I've been so excited about Paddle-to-the Sea!

We're labeling a blank map as we go through the book one chapter a week.
Lily and JJ made canoes this week. Lily named her canoe "Paddle-to-America" and JJ's is "Tennessee."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Crafty Things and Loop Scheduling

Our first week of 2014/2015 is off to the exact start I expected! Both my "students" are doing great...and my non-students like to give me alternating cries, but I think they're getting it.
Something new I'm trying this year is loop scheduling. It helps my Type-A, scheduling personality, but is flexible enough for having young kids in the home. This year I didn't schedule specific school dates and decided to just do 180 days. I was worried if I had specific subjects on specific days some subjects may get skipped more. I came up with the index-binder ring idea below. (My sweet friend actually found these already made at the Dollar Tree! When she told me about them I was so excited since was exactly what I had been thinking. And I didn't have to make them!) I have two loops going right now: 1) Science-History-Science-History-Geography and 2) Poetry-Picture Study-Poetry-Composer Study-Hymn Study. I've actually completed poetry every day so far, but just in case I added it in to the "loop." I just turn the card when we complete a subject and I know the next day we do school we move to the next subject. It's easier to keep track of what to do in situations like when we do school on Wednesday and not again until Monday. Loop scheduling is nothing new. It's just new to us.
My next idea was that I needed somewhere to hang my loops. I found this dry erase board combo on Amazon, but felt it was a bit pricey. I ended up making my own. I bought a much cheaper dry erase board with a cork border. My loops are hung by these cute, decorative clothespins I made with crafting tape. I glued a thumbtack to the back and...Voila!

I use the white board to keep track of our artist, composer, and hymn studies. So far I'm loving it and am very happy with loop scheduling. Our general school day has a few kinks to be ironed out, but is otherwise right on track.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014-2015 School Plans

This is a very tentative plan. I mean, it is only the end of June.

Family Studies:

r       Truthquest History (American, Exploration-1800)

r       Bible, continue Catherine Vos The Child’s Story Bible

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Scripture Memory Box, select scriptures

r       Literature: (Simply Charlotte Mason module 2)

Stuart Little by E.B. White

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (optional, reread for Lily)

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Aesop’s Fables by Milo Winter

(Possibly Parables of Nature by Margaret Getty or Among the Farmyard People by Clara Dillingham Pierson; I’m still undecided and both of these would be more than just a literature reading as well.)

r       Poetry: Various selections of poetry for children (i.e., Rudyard Kipling’s Poetry for Young People)

r       Shakespeare: Tales from Shakespeare, Charles and Mary Lamb and/or Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit


r       Composer Study: Ludwig Van Beethoven and Wolfgang Mozart

r       Artist Study: Van Gogh and John Constable

r       Hymn Study: (Simply Charlotte Mason Group 1)

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

Like a River Glorious

To God Be the Glory

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Crown Him with Many Crowns

O Come, All Ye Faithful

r       Nature Study: Outdoor-life, One Small Square: Backyard

r       Science: The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess, How Birds Behave by Neil Ardley, various field guides and picture books

r       Handicrafts: Life-skills, bread baking, art/painting, usable crafts such as jewelry

r       Personal Development: Habit Training- Laying Down the Rails for Children: A Habit Training Companion by Lanaya Gore

Independent Studies:


r       Math: Math-U-See Beta, continue to work on time and money

r       Reading: Continue readers, Treadwell, Elson, McGuffey, etc.

r       Copywork: Handwriting Lessons Through Literature: The Elson Primer and

A Reason for Handwriting


r       Math: Math U See Primer

r       Reading: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
      Copywork: Handwriting Without Tears

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nature Study: A Bird Egg Mystery

Yesterday my little JJ ran to me to excitedly inform me the bluebirds were back and he saw a bird come out of the house. Lily piped right in, "Oh yes, Momma! I saw it too this morning at breakfast! Can we see?! Can we see?!" This was puzzling to me since the bluebirds' eggs had already hatched and we haven't seen them in several weeks.

We decided to take a peek and this is what we found...

See the two different types of eggs? This was a first for me. We spent the evening watching the nest to see what type of bird went in and it was sure enough our bluebirds. Apparently, bluebirds, like some other birds will hatch two sets of offspring in Spring and Summer.
Unfortunately, as I researched why there were two different types of eggs I came to some sad news. The other eggs are parasitic. They are most likely from a Brown-headed cowbird. The cowbird probably crept into the bluebirds' nest and actually destroyed some of their eggs. On top of that, the cowbird will hatch first and require more food as it grows larger than the bluebird hatchlings. Momma Bluebird will unknowingly care for the cowbird hatchlings as her own.
Removing the eggs aren't an option for the honest person since they are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act. It is possible the cowbird will destroy the nest if her eggs are removed as well. I'm also hesitant to remove them because the bluebirds may think I'm messing with their eggs. Daddy Bluebird can be quiet vicious. Which brings up another issue. One of the ways to deter a cowbird is to not visit a nest. Now, I'm left wondering if our baby bird watching is what set up our bluebirds for the parasite.
We'll wait it out and see. And next year not hang out at the birdhouse so often!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Outdoor Life: Fishing

"An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing. ~Charlotte Mason
 (Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.69)

Friday, June 13, 2014

An Unexpected Visitor: Part 1

I can’t make this stuff up.

Yesterday, June 12 I sent this message to my friend, Trisha, on Facebook. She’s currently having a mouse problem.

Allow me to share my mice story. A few years ago I kept telling my husband that I was sure we had mice in our vents. I was positive they kept waking Anna up at night (she was still in a crib). And our cat would just sit and stare at the vents. He thought I was crazy. I kept on him. "PLEASE," I would say, "there is this terrible smell in Anna's room. I KNOW there are 'rats'!" FINALLY, months later, he looks and by George, there are mice NESTING in our vents! Our dog decided to warm himself under the house and tear down our duct work. The mice from the hay field beside us made straightway for our house. Eventually, we caught DOZENS of the little varmints in our vents and under our house. At night we could hear mouse traps going off! We even set traps in our bedroom vents. An exterminator was called and our entire duct work had to be repaired. I made Nate bleach every "rat" he caught in a bag because I was sure the Bubonic Plague was going to be passed on to my children. They even chewed through my DRYER vent (that same stinky smell) and was eating our cat food. Nate found one sitting on our trash can in the laundry area. Eww. All this to say...I feel your pain.
Like I said, I can’t make this stuff up.

Last night at 12:30AM, (or for you technical folks, “early this morning”), my husband comes into our bedroom with a flashlight in obvious distress. I, being dead asleep, bounce up in the bed, heart racing. And thus begins the “whisper yelling.”

“WHAT?! WHAT is it?”

 “I don’t know what we’re going to do about this. I heard a noise the other night and was worried the mice had gotten back in the vents. I heard it again and took my flashlight over there...and it’s a ‘possum. A ‘possum! We have a possum in our vents!”
“Oh my word! Couldn’t you have chosen a better time than 1:00AM to tell me this? How do you know!?”

“ I just looked and it’s either a possum or an 8lb rat! What are we going to do?”

 “Nothing tonight.”

So ceased the whisper yelling. I then hear him mumbling around the house and moving a case of water over the vent in case it can push through the vent. I couldn’t help but laugh at this crazy predicament. How in the world did an opossum get under our house? And then I started to panic, what if it pushes the vent out? All I could see when I closed my eyes was a big fat ‘possum waddling through my house! I started counting the vents in our house he could possibly escape from...eleven. At least eleven. Getting back to sleep was quite an issue...

(Stay tuned for how we handle our unexpected visitor.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

But What About the Wet Days?

"But what about the wet days? The fact is, that rain, unless of the heaviest does the children no harm at all if they are suitably clothed." Charlotte Mason, Vol 1, Part 2, pg. 87)



Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Making of a Home Library

Since we intend to use living books for home education, I've been spending a lot of time hitting up yard sales and used bookstores to build our own library. We also take advantage of a private lending library in our town full of wonderful living books.

Today's finds were great despite the overwhelming size of the store. Many of these will be useful to us when we use Truthquest History for the first time this year. I found some just for fun and Little Bear for an early reader.

I am so thankful for Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education and homeschooling. I have always loved books, but I now have a whole new view on a good book and how a book is able tc teach character, morals, and truth.

Friday, June 6, 2014

An Idea for a Week

I'm a planner. So, I'm already planning for next year. This is an idea of what I want the week to look like for my Kindergartener and first grader. This probably will not happen. I will have a three and two year old. I'll just be happy if we do anything. Again, this an idea.

Breakfast  Bible/Scripture Memory
9:00AM    Chores
9:30AM    Math
-11:30AM Reading
Lunch       Poetry
12:30PM- Free Time
1:30PM    Free Time/Piano Practice
2:00PM    Literature Read Aloud
2:30PM    Habit Training
3:00PM-   Quiet Time
4:00PM    Free Time
Breakfast  Bible/Catechism
9:00AM    Chores
9:30AM    Math
-11:30AM Reading
Lunch       Picture Study
12:30PM- Free Time
1:30PM    Free Time/Piano Practice
2:00PM    Literature Read Aloud
2:30PM    Nature Study
3:00PM-   Quiet Time

4:00PM   Free Time
Breakfast  Bible/Scripture Memory
9:00AM    Chores
9:30AM    Math
-11:30AM Reading
Lunch       Poetry
12:30PM- Free Time
1:30PM    Free Time/Piano Practice
2:00PM    Literature Read Aloud
2:30PM    Games/Puzzles/Color
3:00PM-   Quiet Time
4:00PM    Free Time
Breakfast  Bible/Catechism
9:00AM    Chores
9:30AM    Math
-11:30AM Reading
Lunch       Composer Study
12:30PM- Free Time
1:30PM    Free Time/Piano Practice
2:00PM    Literature Read Aloud
2:30PM    Habit Training
3:00PM-   Quiet Time
4:00PM    Free Time
Breakfast  Bible/Hymn Study
9:00AM    Chores
9:30AM    Math
-11:30AM Reading
Lunch       Poetry
12:30PM- Free Time
1:30PM    Free Time/Piano Practice
2:00PM    Literature Read Aloud
2:30PM    Art/Handicrafts
3:00PM-   Quiet Time
4:00PM    Free Time

I apologize for the format. It would make more sense if I could do a table. Doing a table on blogger is hideous. This is a basic idea of what I want the kids to do for a week. During their "free time," I will be reading to the "little" littles, getting them ready for naps and/or doing chores and preparing meals.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Nature Study: Dobson-fly

We recently purchased a beautiful piece of property on the Holston River.

While visiting there tonight I found this odd creature crawling on the ground. It's a Dobson-fly, or Hellgrammite. My husband uses them to fish and they are quite scary looking!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Living Books and Toads

Using a Charlotte Mason education or homeschooling in general, you are often questioned about "textbooks." Here in this house we are anti-textbooks and workbooks in everything except math. Real books are the way to go! Sonia Shafer's definition of living books is this: "Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject 'come alive.' " We are experiencing first hand the pleasure of learning through living books. My decision to use Apologia or living books has been temporarily answered by the amazing things we are learning through The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad by Thornton Burgess. These sweet books are full of great information and yet so entertaining for the kids.

Thanks to this sweet little chapter book my five and six year old know so many neat things about toads! They have learned about mating calls and polliwogs. They were amused and amazed when Peter Rabbit caught Old Mr. Toad changing his suit and eating it! They know all about his sticky, long tongue and even where it's connected in his mouth. And just today we learned how he hides in the ground to hibernate. All of this through playful dialogue between Peter Rabbit, Old Mr. Toad, and other of Burgess' fictional creatures.

After reading about the toad shedding, we were even able to go on YouTube and watch a video of a toad actually shedding and eating his own skin. Technology is good for something!

I am really looking forward to reading more of Burgess' animals adventures and plan to use The Burgess Bird Book for Children for science next year.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Nature Study: Goldenrod Crab Spider

We caught this spider that we are pretty sure is a Goldenrod Crab Spider. Notice the four larger front legs? Kind of looks like a crab. We found out this is probably a female because the males have red stripes. This spider can change colors to white or green and usually hangs out on yellow flowers awaiting her prey. She injects poison rather than spinning a web. I did see her once drop from a dragline when I was messing with her with a stick.
What are the chances that in less than 8 hours of having her, she shed her exoskeleton?! I thought she withered away in the sun and was very confused until I finally found her hiding in a nook of our bug box.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lily Plays the Piano

Here are a couple of videos of Lily playing the piano. Please forgive the quality. All videos and pictures have been taken with my phone.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Another Step Into Our Days

I promised a new post! You'll maybe get a couple just to catch you up. I have a couple of videos I would like to share and a lot of pictures. I'll try not to bore you!

JJ is helping Momma bake banana nut bread. (with chocolate chips of course!)

Anna's upset. :(

Park day!

Our handsome soon-to-be Kindergartener.

Daddy is acknowledged for passing his P.E. exam!

TV watching in a box.

Lunch outside

Our pet you haven't met, Joshua Luke the rabbit.

The new kitten grew.

I took a book inventory of picture books.

And made a mess.

Mommy reads, too!

Another park day.

Math drills

Another handsome boy

Mommy and Lily go to a wedding.

Isn't she beautiful?!

Outdoor life

Working in the garden.

Wise words from Ms. Mason

Planning for next year!

This is a baby lady bug on Lily's hand!

Baby blue birds (no birds were injured in the taking of this photo.)

Mommy's obsession

More planning!


Hope you enjoyed this step into our days.