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October 2015

Weekly wrap up

Our homeschool this week:

Last week we added in the rest of our subjects for the year. We are still settling in with the new routine. Added to that one of my adult children moved back home this week, so our school room that we just got settled in is back to a bedroom. Late nights with the moving and friend issues also make the week a little rougher than usual. But we survived.



We had a wonderful hike with our nature group. The weather was just about perfect this week. We were able to find some cool things to include in our nature pal exchange package that we will be mailing out later this week.


Jack has started working in the Botany coloring book once each week. This week his page was on plant cells and I remembered this model kit that I had ordered. He enjoyed putting it together and putting it on display in his room.


He reviewed the land and water form pin it map that he had memorized last month.  This time working outside keeping his sister company while she put up some Halloween decorations.


All the botany has spurred a renewed interest in his microscope and making slides.  Some that he made: a peacock feather, an eyelash, a piece of the shed snake skin, water from a puddle outside in the chicken pen- eww,   a leaf and more.

Carving pumpkins.


At park day we played a few Halloween games and did some experiments with dry ice- boo bubbles and film canister rockets. 


Saturday morning we went to a car show and all abilities fair in our town square.  Jack loved seeing this tank up close.  He also made a paper and duct tape rocket and then launched it into the air. The rockets went really high. We were impressed with the set up.


We have been having fun getting ready for our big Halloween party tonight.


Explorer fair

Our homeschool group tries to have at least one fair each month. We give the fair a theme, but are somewhat open to how it is interpreted by the children. They can do any project they want, or no project at all. They can give an oral presentation along with it, or they can just put their project on the table for display.  We try to have these fairs at park day where it makes it more convenient for the members who live farther away to make the trip.

This past week, we had an Explorer Fair.  Jack chose to do his presentation on Teddy Roosevelt.  To prepare we read a couple of short biographies and also watched a documentary about Teddy;s younger years.


For his presentation, Jack first showed a teddy bear and explained the story behind the naming of the teddy bear. Then he gave an oral presentation about Teddy and some of his adventures, including his camping trip with John Muir in Yosemite.   Then he read the quote often referred  to as The Man in the Arena.

Other fairs we have had in the past include: biography, wonder of the world, literature, science, math, geography, history, and Christmas traditions around the world.


Two other children gave presentations on Neil Armstrong and Eric the Red.

Nature Study week 7

This week we went to a new to me park at the suggestion of one of our group members.  It is billed as a nature park and I was anxious to visit.


It is right at the end of a street and at first glance I didn't expect much. From the parking lot all you could see was a small pavilion and small grassy area.


There was a little path to the side of the grassy area that led up a hill to a huge pond.  We saw ducks, coots, and red ear sliders along with various songbirds.





After running around the pond for a bit, the boys settled down on the grass to do some cloud watching.


Eventually the boys found some flowers to sketch in their nature journals. They sketched, dissected, compared the shapes of the petals and then we arranged the petals to form pictures.

Then, having gathered some energy they went off to have sword fights with sticks while the mothers talked about different read alouds.


Book Club

Recently I started a book club for the kids in our homeschool group. Well actually I started in hopes of getting my own son interested in reading harder, bigger, longer books than he usually did.  You see, Jack tends to get in ruts or jags as they call them. It happens with food, movies, clothes, and books.  He has book that he has read 20 times. He practically has them memorized. However, once he gets in a jag it's hard to get him out of it. I decided that maybe peer involvement would be a good way to help him stretch and go beyond.

I had him choose the first book. His older siblings had been trying for ages to get him to read one of Brandon Mull's books. He chose The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull.  It wasn't a classic, but it was a good size book and he was excited about the club.  

The kids were all excited about the book even though some had read it before. I chose to keep this club to ages 7 and up because I wanted to be able to have good literary type discussion and not have to worry so much about book content.

While everyone was arriving I had the kids start thinking up a name for the book club. After everyone was there, I passed around folders for everyone to keep their papers in and a simple plot diagram for them to fill in if they wanted.




First, we discussed what a protagonist is and who they thought the protagonist was in the story. Then we did the same for the antagonist.  I then explained how if you had a protagonist and an antagonist in a book there would be conflict.  



Next we discussed the  six different types of conflict. I had a big pad of paper and on it I wrote man vs. six times. Then I asked them to tell me what types of conflict there were. The first they came up with was man vs. man since I led them into it by explaining the protagonist vs. antagonist first.  Between the parents and the children we were able to come up with all six kinds. The only one they had trouble with was the man vs. machine so I gave some leading clues.


Next we discussed the climax of the book. I gave them the definition on my big chart first and then let them discuss and brainstorm on what part of the story was the climax. A few times I had to bring them back to the definition to see if their theory fit.



After they had discussed the climax and seem to come to an agreement, I introduced the theme.  I thought this would be better after discussing the basic plot so they would have a better idea of the theme. It was still hard for them to get on the right track. After a bit, one of the parents suggested good vs. evil as a theme and we discussed that to see if it fit. In this book there was a part where the kids were doing something wrong, but trying to do the right thing. So we also discussed that and maybe times when it would be appropriate. 

That was it for the discussion on this book. I didn't want to overwhelm them, a lot of them weren't aware that we were going to be discussing it in this way. The kids then decorated book marks and also filled out note cards suggesting names for the club and book suggestions for  future club picks.


Before the meeting I had chosen five books for the kids to vote on and choose a book for the meeting next month. I had: The Hobbit, The Birchbark House,  Captains Courageous,  From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Around the World in 80 Days.  The kids voted and chose The Hobbit.


The kids also brought their favorite candy, enough for everyone, labeled with the super power you gained from eating it. This was a major part of the book. Each child took a turn to tell us about their candy and pass it out. 

And they voted on a name...The Big Bull Riders. What can I say there are a lot of boys in the group.

Wild explorers club


If you haven't already heard of Wild Explorers Club, you are missing out. This new program has been the answer to some of our prayers. We don't have a scout program that we feel comfortable being a part of in our town, yet we always wanted a similar program for our kids to participate in. Luckily this came along at just the right time for Jack.


He eagerly awaits the assignment each week and it has given us yet another excuse to spend more time out in nature doing what we love.


It's great to see him thoughtfully  go above and beyond for each assignment.



Miss Cairo got her own Wild Explorer badge for her backpack since she accompanies us on all of our adventures.



For his birthday I gave him a special present with more items for his explorer pack and a little note telling him how much I have enjoyed our adventures together.


He has recently completed the first badge, wolf. I will post how we celebrated next week.


Poetry tea time


One thing we are trying to make part of our routine this year, is poetry tea time.  It's been kind of hard to find a slot for it with our added co-op activities this year, but I think we finally found it's place.


We each pick a drink- tea, hot chocolate, or hot apple cider. I try to remember to have a treat on hand. I let him pick which book we will read from.


Sometimes I have something healthy ready. Cheese and crackers are his favorite.


Sometimes it is inside, but more often than not it is on a blanket outside or sitting on the front porch. And it is quickly becoming one of our favorites times!


What I have been reading lately


Magical Journey by Katrina Kenison. This one came long at just the right time for me. IN the past couple of years we have gone from four kids at home, down to one. This book was just what I needed to read after that transition. I laughed, I cried- well actually sobbed, and finished feeling like I wasn't the only one who had felt this way. Would highly recommend.


Storycatcher by Christina Baldwin. And emerging theme for me lately is that of story. This one is lovely.


Bird by Bird. Many friends have recommended this over the years and I finally took their advice. Love it!

Those are the main ones I have been reading. I have a few others that I have been taking slowly, reading a bit here and there. I will post about those once I am further along.

Books we have been reading

This year one of my goals was to get Jack reading different books and bigger books. He has a tendency to get in jags with certain books and ends up reading the same book over and over again which can make variety a real challenge.


For poetry tea time we have used Science Verse and Math Curse, A Child's Garden of Verses, Poetry for Young People:Edgar Allen Poe, and Around the Year.


The Children's Plutarch Tales of the Greeks, Candy Bomber, and We Rock.



Young Teddy Roosevelt, Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt.


365 Starry Nights, Madam How and Lady Why, The Story-Book of Science, and Farmer Boy-our current read aloud. Right now he is reading Fablehaven book 4 along with The Martian.

What are you reading?

I guess I am having a hard time getting in the groove of blogging again, but here is to new beginnings.

Here is an update on how our 5th grade year is going so far.  The Charlotte Mason method is working so well for us this year. We are really trying to embrace it and it feels like coming home. It just fits.  While we aren't using Ambleside Online, we do use some of their suggestions and then use the method and make our other curriculum choices fit. 

Starting today we are back to our full schedule with all of our subjects. It only took us three months to add them all in.


This is our basic schedule. I print a copy out each week that he can use as a checklist each day.  Each day I go through and add what specific lessons he does for each subject in our FunSchooling planner.

We have planned more activities with friends this year including a nature study group and a book club in addition to our weekly park day and field trips.

For the nature group we are being really low key with planning. We go and the kids explore. I was kind of worried about our lack of planning and direction. As the weeks have progressed though, I see the kids really doing well with it. I was worried without direction it would turn to playing and nature study would be forgotten, but that hasn't happened. If anything each week they are doing more and more.

Our first book club meeting will be this week. For the first book I let Jack choose and he picked The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull.

This was a favorite author of his older siblings. You might have heard of his other series Fablehaven.  At this meeting the kids will choose from 4 other books for the next meeting.

We also have at least one fair per month with our homeschool group. For example, this week we are having an Explorer's fair. The children will pick an explorer, or an aspect of exploring to learn about and do a project or presentation for the fair. We have had some fun with these in the past. So far this year we have had a biography fair and wonders of the world fair- Jack did the Dalai Lama and Eater Island for those.