Thursday, June 30, 2016

Super Summer Science - Butterflies

The summer slide - it's a fact of life. Over the summer kids lose some of their newly learned skills.  We all know the phrase use it or lose it, well that's what happens when summer takes over - skills aren't used and they're lost, or at least are left trailing behind.  It's easy to indulge in all the fun summer brings.  Here at Camp Homeschool we've been fishing, swimming, boating, grilling out, gardening, trampolining, BMX and motocross biking, bowfishing, horseback riding...and more.  The activity level is mind blowing, yet the summer slide still happens.  Handwriting skills, reading fluency, math facts - pushed aside leaving room for all things summery and happy.

What if the summer slide could be com-batted with a little trickery on your part?  This summer I've decided to use the Cat in the Hat Learning Library books to infuse a little summery, happy learning into our days.  It's so easy to excite the kids with science, especially in the summer, and especially when it revolves around butterflies.  The first book in my Super Summer Science plan is:

At this point, I'm mainly concerned with Joseph.  The effort required for mastering skills is mind-blowing so I really don't want those new skills to slide away this summer.  I made a list of skills I want to keep fresh.

Reading/Listening Skills
Cutting - Motor skills

Then I thought about a simple structure for our science time.

Read, Review, Eat, Explore


 First we cuddled on the couch and read My, oh My--A butterfly!


 I used this free printable for coloring practice and recognizing colors and shapes.

 Teaching symmetry is perfect in a butterfly unit.  I used this free printable, folded it in half, gave the boys paint and q-tips and instructed them to paint on only half.  Then we folded the blank half over the painted half to reveal a symmetrical butterfly.

Joseph wasn't satisfied with a perfectly symmetrical butterfly and ended up painting more dots on the wings.

Using this free printable, we reviewed the life cycle of a butterfly.  This turned out to be Joe's favorite activity.  He even read it to me before I reviewed it with him.  I was astonished.

After cleaning up, we ate a quick little snack of pretzel twists.  I encouraged them to arrange them on the table to look like butterfly wings.  They had fun and it turned into a what other animal can you make game.
Then for the EXPLORE time we headed outdoors and watched butterflies flit to and fro on the hot gravel driveway.  It was the perfect butterfly watching day.  The boys chased them, trying to catch the butterflies.  We also went searching under leaves for eggs.  It wasn't fruitful, but they had a good time.

It turned out to be the perfect Super Summer Science for Joseph and Peter.  Up next:

We'll focus on frogs.  But before I sign off with this post, here's a short video of Joe reading the butterfly life cycle book.

{pretty happy funny real}

...capturing the context of contentment in everyday life with Like Mother, Like Daughter...


I added this {pretty} window box to the chicken coop this year.  The simplest additions to the yard are always my favorite.

This begonia was a Mother's Day gift from the kids.  It's been blooming profusely and is quite {pretty} if I do say so myself.  A few years ago I took notice of the beautiful, huge flower baskets welcoming customers at the feed store.  I asked what fertilizer they used and she pointed me to Tiger Bloom.  I tossed out my Miracle-Gro (which was way too hot and always burning off my plants) and started using Tiger Bloom.  It's awesome.  I fertilize every Thursday with a mix of 2 capfuls/gallon of water.

So much happiness in the summer.

Blurry, but she was moving fast, people.  Amber runs Pearl in the gymkhana games.  Last night she placed for the first time at this arena - 4th place in pole bending.  She was so {happy}.

Kids helping in the garden is oh, so {happy}.

Having enough free time for fishing makes me {happy}.

Winning first place at BMX = more {happy}.

Very, Very {happy} is plucking fresh cherry tomatoes for breakfast right from the patio plant.


Joseph feeling the gap after just losing a tooth.  His little tongue was flicking in the gap all day.


I really wish this were not {real}, but Joe dumped a little less than a quart of milk on the living room rug.  The threat of spoiled, stinking milk made my decision to haul the rug outside for a good hosing an easy one.  But where do you drip dry a 10' x 12' area rug?  Over the 4-wheeler, of course.  I sure hope it dries before the predicted thunderstorms this afternoon.

For more {p, h, f, r} visit Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

{pretty happy funny real} - Graduation edition

Like Mother, Like Daughter hosts a {phfr} linkup.  The idea is to capture life's everyday moments in terms of pretty, happy, funny, and real.  Sounds like fun doesn't it?

Here is my first linkup with {phfr}.  It's the graduation edition.  After a lifetime (Emily's) of homeschooling, she has graduated from homeschool.  We couldn't be more proud of her dedication, hard work, and success.

~capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~


Emily created a beautiful "All About Me" corner.  She found inspiration at Pinterest and since she picked her own school colors, blue & white, she was able to decorate in her favorite color.  

My very pretty mom and oldest daughter enjoying the party.

These were the prettiest cupcakes and I couldn't be happier with the display.  It really was a team effort.  Warren cut discs of birch, Amber baked the cupcakes, Aunt Kathy made the filling and frosting, and the cupcake toppers were made by Amber, Sparky, Grandma, and myself.  I had so many ideas for cupcake toppers, but when Joseph pitched my computer off the couch and it smashed, I had to come up with something simple that didn't involve any photos.  So I got to thinking how Emily wears so many different hats and typed up words describing her, sandwiched a toothpick between the print-out and cardstock and voila....almost instant cupcake toppers and a good conversation starter to boot.  Besides what you can see in the picture other toppers included:  violinist, equestrian, college bound, CCD teacher, Amish book reader, and self starter.


Presenting Emily with her diploma.

With so many guests, some whom are seen often and others whom we seldom see, happy moments were everywhere.  This is one of my favorites.  It was setting up to be a 90+ degree day so we took along buckets and water balls and a sprinkler to help the kids keep cool.  The kids, young and old, had fun cooling off.

Even in the heat the teens and a few not quite teens anymore played volleyball.


When you get 100 people together funny things are bound to happen.  The problem is having the camera at the ready.  But I did capture this picture of Nick driving grandma's power chair to the shelter.

Late night chicken dance around the fire - music provided by Uncle Don on the fiddle.


Joe doesn't see Uncle Don all that often, but even so the way he looks at him is priceless.  I remember looking at Uncle Don that way as a little girl.  That look says, Wow, he's totally paying attention to me.  He wants to spend time with me.  Even as a grown up he's so cool.  This picture reminds me of the importance of being real.  Kids have a way of seeking those people out.

Linking up with Like Mother Like Daughter

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Laundry Room Speech Therapy

Dirty laundry is the story of my life.  Laundry baskets don't stay empty very long around here.  Seems like I wash a load, turn around, and the basket is full again.  I spend a lot of time sorting, washing, transferring, folding, and putting away laundry.  I'm not complaining though.  Really, it's an easy job when compared to other household chores.  It's one I haven't delegated to anyone else.  Scrubbing the tub...Amber?  Are you busy?  Sweeping the garage...Sam?  Grab the broom.  I'll stick with the laundry.

It probably comes as no surprise then when I say I spend a lot of time in the laundry room.  I teach Pre-School skills, give spelling tests, and even conduct speech therapy while completing the task of laundry.

We haven't ventured down the path of organized speech therapy with Joseph yet.  I know it's the norm for children with Down syndrome, but I rarely subscribe to the norms.  I'm wishy washy about the usefulness of it.  I'd have to pack up younger siblings, drive a distance, take time away from our normal homeschool day, leave older siblings to fend for themselves.  Would the results payoff?  I don't know.  Ask me about this in September and I'll probably think differently.

However, I do strive to incorporate my own version of speech therapy into our daily schedule.  The best place for practice is in the laundry room, of course.

Here's what I do:

As I remove items from the dryer, I have Joseph label them (with words).  He'll say something like shirt, an easy word for him.  I'll add to that and have him repeat it.  I might say t-shirt or long-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt.  These are harder for him to say.  He's not fond of multi-syllable words.  Taking another item from the dryer, he'll label it pants.  I'll say blue jeans or work pants or athletic pants.  He has a hard time with the consonant+l blend and also the /th/ phoneme so I like to incorporate those as much as possible.

I know speech therapists have special training to help with these issues and all I'm armed with is the internet, unconditional love and a burning desire for him to succeed, but so far it's working for us....until I change my mind.  Like I said, I'm wishy washy on this subject.

Linking up with Works For Me Wednesday

Saturday, June 18, 2016

End-of-School-Interviews - 2016

Last year I fell in love with Jessica's end of school interviews.  I was inspired to create my own using Picmonkey photo editing.  I displayed them on our school room wall on an old window frame I picked up from a garage sale.  Often I saw the kids reading over each other's interviews - laughing, smiling, discussing their answers.  Conducting these interviews is the perfect way to signal that school has ended and the year is in the books.  So without further ado I have this year's interviews.

 (photo credit - Sam Minch photography)

Emily's favorite books - Flight Into Spring & Dragonfly in Amber

Emily's most proud of graduating homeschool.  She'll be continuing her education at UW-Marshfield this fall.  Once she earns her Associate Degree she'll transfer to a state university and major in Ag-something (Ag-science, Ag-studies, Ag-communications)

Nick's favorite book - The Adventures of Robin Hood

And in case you're wondering what kind of certificate Nick's holding, he attended a 9-week Student Police Academy this spring.  He thoroughly enjoyed the program and intends on doing a couple of ride alongs with police officers this summer.

Amber's favorite books - Beautiful Creatures series

One of the questions I like asking is - Hardest Thing I Did All Year, but for some reason this was impossible for Amber to answer so we came up with another question.  Favorite Volunteer Project was a hit and I think I'll add it to next year's interviews.

For the last two summers Sam has played Sandlot Baseball, but this year he changed to something a little more fast-paced - BMX racing.  It's been a fun change.  The track atmosphere is nice.  It's an individual sport.  And Sam gets to (has to) bike as fast as he can which has a way of tiring him out.  He comes home happy, sweaty, and ready for a shower and bed.  That's the perfect sport for an 11 year old boy.

Joseph's favorite book - Mother Goose, My First Mother Goose

Joseph is a huge baseball fan.  He loves baseball movies, baseball games, baseball equipment, and baseball clothing.  In this picture he was just waiting to run the t-ball challenge at the Rafters Baseball game.

Peter's Favorite Book - Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh

Peter has been loving big books.  He loves a good bedtime story and placing the bookmark at stopping point.  So far we've read the Beatrix Potter the Complete Tales, Ready, Set, Read!  The Beginning Reader's Treasury.  Next up will be any other book on the shelf that qualifies as a BIG BOOK.

Maria's favorite book - The Grouchy Ladybug

Summer is in full swing here at Camp Homeschool.  It's so nice to enjoy unlimited time outdoors.  I'd like to be spending more time in the garden, but with three little ones going in opposite directions the garden's going to fend for itself.  We'll see how survival of the fittest works in the plant world.

Have a wonderful Sunday and remember today is the day to start thawing meat for the week.  Meal time goes much smoother when the meat is thawed.

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End-of-School Interviews 2015

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Letting Him Gain Some Independence

When I first learned Joseph would have Down syndrome I fast-forwarded 20 years imagining my grown child always by my side, always needing my help and I was scared.  I wasn't scared of the baby stage.  I wasn't scared of the child stage.  I was scared of the adult stage.  I was scared of him being dependent on me forever.  I was scared of my perceived loss of freedom.

Joe is quickly approaching eight.  He's dependent on me like any eight year old would be.  He needs me to crush his Thyroid tablet and mix it with applesauce.  He needs me to wash his clothes.  He needs me to help him with shoelaces.  

He's also quickly becoming independent in many ways.  He's figured out all the safety measures put in place to keep him from getting outside.  He makes his way out the door without so much as a "See ya" and walks to his favorite spot - the water's edge.  Last year I had to literally chase him around the yard for fear he would walk straight into the reservoir, but now this year he actually looks back waving his hand in a manner that says, "Go away, you are not needed.  I got this."  

Recently, while shopping, Joseph had to use the bathroom.  The normal routine is to use the women's restroom, but this time he walked straight for the men's restroom, turned to me and signaled for me to stop like a police officer does when directing traffic.  I reluctantly let him do his business on his own, waiting at the door in case of emergency.  And you know what?  No emergency ensued.  I could hear him talk to himself, flush, struggle with the lock, wash his hands, and then he appeared in the doorway all happy and independent.

Sometimes I find myself feeling almost sad that he's so independent.  It's hard to let go.  It's hard to let him spread his wings in this harsh world.  Independence means making decisions and living with the consequences.  Is he ready?  Am I ready?  

I suppose we'll keep adding to his list of I Can Do's slowly, just like we do with our other children.  I'll stand back, watching, waiting, and ready to swoop in for a rescue if need be.  But, rescuing isn't easy when he's always running away from me.  My early fears of him at my side 24/7 were just that -  fears.  And then as the realization of his independence sets in......

I walk into the living room to find this.  Leaf added for privacy.  We still have a long way to go.  And that's OK.

Blogging has been light to say the least.  Summer is a busy time.  Three teens working at 5 different places.  BMX racing and 4-H events are keeping us hopping.  The garden is ready for a tilling and the house needs a good makeover, especially those school room closets.  I hope to get back into a routine of regular posting, but family obligations come first.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My Favorite Benefit of Homeschooling

Another year of homeschool has ended.  The state of the school room closets, well, one look inside and there's no denying it was a whirlwind year of science experiments, number puzzles, monarch metamorphosis, medieval history, U.S. History, grammar (lots and lots of grammar), and various arts & craft projects (some still unfinished).  It's a good feeling to see so many opened boxes, contents spilling out and plastic drawers half askew, papers and rulers sticking out.  However, I'd be lying if I didn't say those same opened boxes and askew drawers drive me insane just as equally.  On the one hand they show the fullness of our homeschooling, but they also show that maybe we've done too much.  Maybe in my quest for experiences, I failed to teach the skill and manners of cleaning up after oneself.  We'll tackle the cleanup this summer and I'll request politely (nag) for some help.

I always find myself reflecting on the year, wondering what went well, what was missed, and what will be changed for next year.  In the #1 position on the what went well list is leisure conversation.  Not auto-graded Teaching Textbooks, not Joseph reading the first 6 stories in All About Reading level 1, not Student Writing Intensive.  Though they all make the list, none of them can compare to the leisure conversation homeschooling affords us.

What is leisure conversation?  It's being close (in vicinity) to my children most of the day so that natural conversation can lead to closer relationships and be used as a learning tool.  I think back to conversations about maps and music and religion.  What started as a silly diversion quickly led to a long conversation with everyone chiming in.  Before long we were conversing about important topics, sharing our opinions, genuinely interested in what each other had to say.

What is leisure conversation?  It's sitting down at the lunch table at 12:10 and finding ourselves still laughing, talking, sharing, discussing issues (personal & political) at 1:15.  "Oh my gosh, we need to clean things up and get back to our day," I'd say.  But that was the day.  The most important part of the day.

What is leisure conversation?  It's including kids in my work.  They might begrudgingly help with cutting vegetables for soup, but after a little bit of working silence they start talking and talking and talking.  I learn about sassy horses and BMX bike tires and nutrition plans for "getting big".  I learn about cell phone problems, pinterest projects, and movies wanted to see.

What is leisure conversation?  It's when I learn my child's heart.  It is truly the most important part of our homeschool day.