Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Kindergarten Graduation

I pulled out Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp this morning. Lee and I went through the kindergarten section to see if we covered the generals of kindergarten. I highlighted a few things to do this summer.

1. Play with shadows - My idea is to line up boxes on the sidewalk on the sunny side of the house and then, using chalk, trace the outline of their shadow. I believe this will make a city scape. If we do this a few times during the day we'll notice how the shadow changes according the angle of the sun. Sounds like great fun to me. I'll report back when we try it.

2. Pledge of Allegiance - We better practice this along with a few other "Americana" symbols.

3. Read books about famous Americans and the five senses.

4. Gather data and make a pictoral graph. I'm thinking numbers of rocks, frogs, insects collected over a period of 2 weeks.

Tomorrow I'll do the 1st grade section with Grace.

Things to do today:
make rhubarb dessert
picnic with friends
make chili
play violin with Grace
read Little House on the Prairie

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Variety Show

Thursday night was the annual Variety Show. Grace played her violin, accompanied by Tyler; they did a great job. Afterwards she commented that her knees were shaking. I'm so proud of her! Grace and Lou along with Greta sang a song and signed along with it, they did a great job. They sang loud and clear. It was a lovely evening. I'm working on Lee for next year. Of course Grace spent all Friday choreographing dance moves to all her favorite songs. She tried learning all the words; she's convinced she's going to sing again next year.

Since we're on the topic of performing, the girls have been begging for dance lessons. Our area dance studio has a 6 week summer session that we're going to try. It's a combo ballet and tap dance class. Just found out that the ballet slippers are $15.99 at Payless Shoes. That seems a little steep; looks like we'll be making a trip to Goodwill this week.

Homeschooling isn't all about the kids. I still have hobbies, too. I've been on a bread baking kick, lately. I don't like my new bread machine; I can't seem to get it just right. The bread either over rises and then sinks or doesn't rise at all and we end up with a hard lump of bread. My old bread machine was better, but I'll stop whining about it. Anyway, I decided to let the machine do the kneading and first rise and then I take it out to shape it and let it rise a second time, then bake it in the oven. The bread turns out just fabulous. The most recent is Coffee Raisin Bread from Quick Cooking. I'll publish the recipe another time.

My kids and dear husband are begging for me to finish up so we can go for a boat ride and do some fishing. The worms are dug and the sun is out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Unschooling Our Way to a Great Education

Yesterday was so perfect. The bright sun warmed my cheeks, friends came over for a visit and the kids played hard. I just love those kind of days. To capture the greatness of the day, I'll need to recount the day with a bit more detail.

Early in the morning the kids and I ate homemade rhubarb jam (we made last week) on some cheap, but surprisingly good multi-grain bread. We watched the rose-breasted grossbeak flutter at the bird feeder. Tyler called to remind us that the variety show is coming up this Thursday and that we better come over to practice the violin/piano piece. We all went over and I ended up cleaning while the kids (Tyler is 20) prepared their music pieces. See, they adopted a baby from Ethiopia and the parents were coming home last night. Another friend was over cleaning, too. What a great feeling to clean someone else's home, especially knowing that they will have jet lag and a new addition to their family.

Lunch was leftovers, good ones. Then we did our Monday Home Blessing before some homeschooling friends came over. The older girls practiced a song and signing that they will be performing at the variety show. We talked all afternoon. It was so great. The windshield on our truck was replaced; all the kids sat at the top of the swingset watching so intently. The guys got a kick out of that.

Egg customers came a callin' yesterday. Sold 6 dozen. Grace made brochures last week describing their egg business and we delivered them to neighbors. That really did the trick, no more scrambled eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

After a quick supper we headed back outside to enjoy the beautiful weather before it turns chilly and rainy again. The greenhouse was begging to be filled, so we filled it. We're trying muskmelon this year. Lee hopes to get some biggies, they're his favorite.

We read from The Indian in the Cupboard and went to bed, tired. What a great feeling.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Weekend Fun

We had such a full weekend, yet it was completely relaxing. Friday night we took a drive to Powers Bluff to look at all the beautiful wildflowers. Triliums, Columbine, Wild Asters and more were in full bloom. My favorite are the triliums; they carpet the ground in white. Stunning and beautiful! Lee and Ray fell asleep so they ended up missing out on the fun, but did get some much needed rest. Grace and Lou played on the playground equipment and climbed on the rocks. We had such a nice time and since 2 of the 4 were asleep, no quarrelling.

Saturday I had a church obligation, so dad took the Grace to violin. Everyone napped in the afternoon except me. I planted flowers. Saturday night we had a First Communion to attend and then a party afterward, which the kids loved. We ended up staying at Sierra's until 10:30 p.m. Since our church obligation was met on Saturday night we had all day Sunday to putter around home. DH put away the summerized the snowmobiles, while I mowed the lawn. Kids played outside all day. We had a great pork chop dinner and then headed to the Highground war memorial.

The Highground is a memorial to all the fallen soldiers of past wars. We milled around the property reading about each war memorial. A replica liberty bell is present and open to bell ringing. Lee and I are the only ones who rang the bell, but did it a number of times.

Great weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"You must be a Saint"

Yesterday three of the six family members had dental appointments. As I lay back in the vinyl covered chair, the hygienist asked about my children (ages, gender, which school they attend). Of course I gave the run down of names and ages and that we homeschool. That's when I heard it, "You must be a saint, I stopped at two and sent them to school." How do you respond to that type of comment? I've heard this so many times it usually doesn't phase me, but this time it really hit a nerve. I could've said I love kids, but does that infer that she doesn't. I could've said I enjoy playing and conversing with my kids, but does that infer that she doesn't. I could've said that I want to be the one to shape my child's character, but does that infer that she doesn't. I could've said that I love seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they make new discoveries, but does that infer that she doesn't. I could've said so many things, but I settled with a simple question. "How old are your kids?" That led into an entire teeth cleaning of detailed info on her two girls and their accomplishments. I have to say it was much better than trying to describe my love of homeschooling, and why it's so awesome, to someone who wants to spend most of their time away from her kids. We managed to be done with three cleanings, 2 sets of X-rays and 2 grab bags of goodies all in one hour. The children were well behaved and asked some great questions. They managed to give homeschoolers a good rap today! YES!!!!!!

Short list of what we did today:
*morning checklist (including breakfast, personal care, room pickup and rotating morning chore)
*Lee practiced guitar
*talked to Grace on the phone (she's at grandma's)
*Lee wondered what was under the ocean floor, so we looked through some books for the answer to that
*listened to Lee read Bob Books
*nursed baby, fed baby cheerios, nursed baby, changed baby's diaper
*Lou set numerous puzzles, cut out paper and "wrote" lists of things to buy, traced animals using stencils
*had a snack of molasses cookie bars
*confirmed homeschool planetarium field trip
*helped Lee use a number line
*Lee and Lou played outside

It's time for a nap!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Operation: Clean House

IT'S MONDAY AND THAT MEANS, TIME FOR THE MONDAY HOME BLESSING. My new favorite line in our home is, "We all work together now, so we can all play later". Grace and Lee have accepted this and vigorously helped to clean the house this morning. The home blessing isn't a big deal at all if we all work together. It may sound like my kids are eagerly awaiting Monday morning so as to begin housework. Well, they're not! In our house, I begin when the kids are very young incorporating life skills into the "curriculum". By 3 or 4 they put away their own laundry (which I have folded), make their own bed (like a 3 year old can), and clear their place at the table. We gradually add responsibilities to their list as they mature. I've found the most important part of enlisting kids to help with household chores to be starting early when they are eager and stating the expectation of what's to be accomplished clearly. We also have a house rule that states, "When we have work to do, we do it without complaining." Of course, the kids use the rule on me, too, which I love. :)

We are planting cranberry vines this week. The kids will be busy helping out. I, on the other hand, will be preparing food for the extra mouths to feed. Lou and I made homemade bread; it didn't rise like I wanted, but was delicious anyway.

After lunch the kids played "cowboy" outside in the woods. They collected dandelions and wild mustard to decorate their cabin. Watching kids play can be so relaxing, yet inspiring. They are truly beautiful creations of God. I love homeschooling!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

This and That

Saturday is not a typical school day, however, learning is still to be found at our home. Three of the 5 butterflies emerged today. We all learned that butterflies have meconoium, too. Human birth was discussed at length and now the kids are all disgusted that they pooped "black tar" when they were newborns. By the way the butterfly meconium is blood red.

Grace slept over at a friend's last night. The highlight according to her was playing rock star, college (with pretend cell phones) and staying up until 1:00 am. I picked her up from Suzuki repertoire at noon and then the afternoon has been dedicated to uninterupted movie time. The kids think they are in heaven.

Today's weather is gloomy again. We've had a few rain showers and lots of wind. Things don't look good for the next few days. I want sun! (said with a whiny voice and a firm stomp of the foot)

Tomorrow is the Lorie Line concert. I'm taking my best friend for her birthday. My husband and I went to a performance last year and it was fantastic. She plays beautiful, self arranged piano music with a terrific accompanying orchestra and even better costumes. Can't wait!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Life With Pets

During the last couple of weeks my house has been overrun by "pets". We always have a black lab and 15 chickens that reside outside, but somehow I've been suckered into allowing pets inside. Not big pets, but they do require care none the less. Earlier in the week Lee found an injured butterfly, a beautiful copper. We think the problem is that it is just too cold for its wings to warm up. Even in the house it's not doing so well. We also ordered 5 American Painted Lady larva, which are now in the chrysalid portion of their life. Everyone is anxiously awaiting their emergence as butterflies. Lee made a home for a varigated cutworm. After some brief research we were still in the dark as to how long their larval stage is and what to expect next, if anything. Of course every spring brings with it the awakening of turtles. We've had a couple of baby painted turtles for a day or two and found a large turtle near the reservoir. I'm just realizing that we forgot to look up its species. Everyone has been keeping the bird feeder full of black oil sunflower seeds, which is bringing many species of birds. Lou (3 years old) and I made binoculars out of toilet paper tubes. The viewing is going much better for her now.

Speaking of "Life With Pets", I cannot forget about my children. Since watching E.T. and reading Is There Life in Outer Space? they have been acting like aliens. I even heard Grace (7 years old) conversing with an alien while she was in the bathtub.

Unschooling is like this. Everyday is a little different and always exciting. I love to watch my children learn naturally and they love the freedom to explore the world daily.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Gloomy Skies = Bad Days

Company arrived last night for the turkey hunting season. Things get a little turned upside down whenever another hunting season arrives. Since everyone gets up so early to hear hunting stories during breakfast the "grumpies" come out earlier than most days. Top it off with strong winds and gloomy skies and the day has only one way to go, downhill fast.

With that said, we decided to lay low and begin by reading. Currently we are reading from the Little House on the Prairie series. Most mornings we begin by reading a chapter or two and then move on from there. The kids like to make a verbal list of a few things they want to do each day. It helps to give some structure to the unschooling day. Grace and Lee practiced their instruments, violin and guitar, respectively. They each made an entry into their journal. The plan is to make cookies, play Jumpstart 1st Grade and then time for lunch. Hopefully the afternoon brings on a few more smiles than the morning.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mixed Nuts

"Mom, I like two kinds of nuts, now", my 6 year old said. Here's the needed background information. During the Christmas season we put out a bowl of mixed nuts (in the shell). Nick excitedly shelled one of each variety and tried it. He discovered that he only liked walnuts. Fast forward four months. We put out another bowl of mixed nuts (in the shell). Again, Nick shelled each variety and this time exclaimed, "Mom, I like two kinds of nuts, now." He added pecans to his list of likes.

Homeschooling/Learning is like this. As a mom I offer many opportunities each day for learning. When at the library, I choose many genres of reading material, music, videos, magazines, books on tape, games and framed artwork to bring home. As the three weeks go by the kids peruse through this pile, sometimes they find a treasure, other times not. They pull out a book on aliens browse through the pictures and put it back in the pile, not interested this time. Many times they pull the same book out day after day and put it back, still not interested. Then the Aha! moment comes, on day 10 they sit down on the couch with that same book on aliens and beg me to read it. It finally struck a nerve with them. I have to remind myself not to give up the first time, especially when it comes to reading or writing without hesitation. Each day is a new day and our likes and dislikes are always changing. Go with the flow and don't give up.

By the way, Nick is totally interested in aliens. We watched E.T. this afternoon and are in the middle of reading a 10 book pile of extra terrestrial books.

Welcome to Camp

I just began setting up camp. This is going to take awhile, so please be patient while I get my "camp" up and running smoothly.

Why the title "Camp Homeschool"? My husband, four children and I live in rural central Wisconsin. We farm cranberries on a beautiful piece of property that many people describe as "better than vacation property". We enjoy time in the woods hiking, 4-wheeling, hunting and trapping. We listen to loons, spring peepers, bullfrogs and fish splash in the reservoir and gaze out our kitchen window at more than 20 species of birds. The kids collect pinecones, injured insects and dandelions in the "yard". Class meets outdoors!

Somewhere in the middle of all this fun we learn, live and love with each other.