Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Nature Journaling

It was a gorgeous day yesterday, so we cut our school day a little short and headed to the a local nature center for a nature walk and some nature journaling. There was so much to look at that it was tough for the children to choose something to journal.

Thing 3 chose to journal this wildflower. I think it's actually ragweed, but I can't be sure. For research purposes, I declared it was ragweed.

In our research, we learned that bees love ragweed because it produces so much pollen. Some people say that a single plant produces a billion grains of pollen in one season! Please pass the Zyrtec.

Thing 4 chose to journal a garden snail that she found hiding under this rotting piece of wood. She sort of rushed through her drawing so she could play with her new friend. They're really pretty interesting creatures, what with those eyes on stalks.

You'll notice that she continues to make interesting fashion choices. She tells me that matching clothes are so dull.

Both kiddos thought this guy was cool, but he wouldn't hold still long enough for either of them to sketch.

"Let them once get in touch with nature and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight and habit through life." Charlotte Mason

Monday, September 28, 2009

Great Article On Homeschooling

My friend (and newbie Otherwise Educating mom) Jennifer sent this Salon article to me this morning. It's lengthy but worth the read.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cool Spelling Website

I haven't tried this site with the kiddos yet, but I have played around on it and like what I have seen so far. It might be a fun way to change up spelling every now and then.

It's free, too!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Butter Making

What better to go with homemade bread than homemade butter?

We learned that when fresh milk is left standing, it separates into heavy cream on top and skim milk on bottom. Heavy cream is full of fat and protein. When you shake the cream long enough, the fat globules stick together forming butter and leaving behind buttermilk.

We shook.

And shook.

And then I shook a whole lot more but no one captured that on film.

We decided we needed a little music to shake to, so I took the opportunity to introduce them to yet another song from my childhood, and we shook our booties and our butter with KC and the Sunshine Band playing on the computer. (And, for the record, I knew that song well before The Simpons were around. As I have mentioned, I am o.l.d.)

Finally, we had butter and buttermilk!

If you break a sweat while making butter, does it mean you're out of shape? Just asking...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bread Making - Four Subjects, One Lesson!

In history, we are studying Babylonia..."a rich land where there was no money". Thanks to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers creating rich soil, Babylonia was rich because many good food crops grew there. Historians believed that wheat was first grown there.

That was history.

Before we made the bread, we learned about yeast...what it is, what it's job is in bread dough, and how it works. We learned that yeast is a single-cell fungus that "comes to life" when it is put in warm water. We used a thermometer (that was math!) to be sure we had the perfect water temperature because if the water is too hot, the yeast will die. Like all living organisms, yeast needs food to survive. Yeast's food of choice is sugar. When the sugar is consumed, the yeast releases carbon dioxide bubbles, causing the bread to rise.

I wanted to give the children a visual of what, exactly, happens during the fermentation process. So before we started making the bread, we put some yeast, sugar and warm water in a bottle and placed a balloon over the top. As the yeast fermented and released carbon dioxide (which we learned is a gas), the balloon inflated. (My children made the observation that yeast, like people, burp and pass gas when they eat. What are you going to do?)

That was science.

And then it was time to make the bread. The children took turns sifting, measuring (math again!), mixing, kneading, punching and forming.

That was cooking class.

Thing 4 couldn't resist drawing in the flour.

I counted that as a bonus art class for her.

Finally, we had two beautiful, if imperfect, loaves of bread. One for us and one to share with friends.

Who needs a bread machine?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


History is a tricky subject to teach. It can be fascinating or it can be really dry. I prefer to go the fascinating route. I decided that for our first year of history, I wanted to go with living books, a la Charlotte Mason. After quite a bit of research, I found a wonderful history book, A Child's History of the World. The book is wonderfully written and teaches history by way of telling great stories. It reads like a child's chapter book, yet there is no twaddle. My children love listening to the stories, and can't wait for history every day.

I really like not having a specific history curriculum that I feel we must get through. If we find something particularly interesting, we can take a break from the book and delve more deeply into that topic.

To go along with our history book, I purchased a beautiful timeline book. Timelines are a great way to help make sense of history. When children can see events as they fit together, it cements everything for them.

Just a few chapters into our history book, we learned about Ancient Egypt. There's something about those pyramids and mummies that fascinates children. We took a break from the book and really concentrated on the study of Ancient Egypt. I found some great books and videos on the subject. (Thank you, public library and Netflix.)

I found this wonderful book, Ancient Egypt Drawing, and the kiddos did a few drawings in their art books. We also did sand paintings, like you might find on the wall of a tomb. (Notice their cave paintings in the background that we did during our study of the Stone Age.) These were fun and easy to do. I just cut fine grit sand paper into squares and the kids used regular crayons for their drawings.

I also have to share this totally lame "enrichment" project that came with the book, just because it makes me laugh. The children made pyramids out of paper and then had to write everything they could remember about our study of Egypt. (Please ignore the creative spelling of "pharaoh". Charlotte Mason would be so disappointed in me for not immediately correcting a misspelled word.) If you look closely, you'll see "Steve Martin" written on each pyramid.

What can I say? Their teacher is o-l-d.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Weird, Unsocialized Home Schooled Kids

This was Home School Day at a local gymnastics gym. The kiddos can't wait until we go again later this month! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Anti Social: A Comedy of Homeschoolers

I don't know why, but this video makes me literally LOL! People spend an inordinate amount of time worrying that home schoolers are raising social misfits. Like I tell everyone who expresses their concern for my children in that children were weird before I took them out of school.  And I mean that in the nicest way. 


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