Friday, October 24, 2014

Week Two Wrap Up, Columbus: Homeschooling 2014-2015 School Year

We moved slowly through this, yet again. We added in some additional learning (Spelling) and that did present a learning curve. I admit with a houseful of needs I am always trying to stay ahead and on task. I want to provide for all of the needs of all of the people, while still keeping my smile on.

More coffee, please?

And somehow we are still going and still loving what we are learning after the first couple of weeks.
And the big kids are learning well, keeping themselves on task (most of the time).
And the toddler is not coloring on walls (I think) and the baby is fed.
and two weeks are done with these two.

On to our overview
Air, one week study
(begins this week and will continue over to next week)

Our Air unit was very simple. We did a few fun experiments, played some simple games and made a couple of crafts together.

Reading: Science with Air, Usborne Science Experiments

A favorite craft this time was this
Wind Vane

and it really works. It is simple to put together. You need just a few basic supplies.

a pencil
a paper straw
a pin
a ball of playdough
 paper pieces (we cut these out free hand for the arrow)
a paper plate

Step One
Add your North, East, South and West to your paper plate.

Step Two
Create notches in your straw for your arrow die cuts, then slide the pieces into those notches.

Step Three
Add a nice round ball of playdough to the center of your paper plate. Then, stick your pencil, eraser side up, into your dough. Make sure you poke it into the center of your circle and push until it is firm and steady.

Step Four
Poke your needle through your paper straw and then into the pencil eraser. Make sure to also center the pin into the center of the eraser, and push down nice and firmly. You will want to play with the straw and pin a bit until it spins freely.

Now you are ready to watch the AIR spin your straw and find the direction of that air as wind! This was well timed along with creating a compass with our Columbus studies.

and we created musical pipes 

This simple craft stick with varying sizes of straws was quite a hit. We glued them securely to a craft stick with hot glue. We even had our own parade through the house!

Our two favorite experiments

Can you put all of your weight on AIR?  Will it support you?

we found out it will!!

and the shock and shrieks when the balloons they balanced on did not pop was so worth the whole experiment...

We used a large plastic bottle and submerged it into a tub of water to see what would happen...

and we saw lots of bubbles!
We learned that most things that look empty are actually full of air.

Having a juice box is a pretty special treat around here and this was a great way to experiment with air, from blowing bubbles to emptying the box of juice and then filling it back up with air. This was really fun. and simple. 
and simple is so nice for this busy mommy.

Our favorite game "Paper Races" was a huge hit from our air unit was the simplest thing we could have chosen, and I am highly recommending it if you are studying air with your children. All you need are pieces of paper, with a small fold on one end, and some cardboard.  You use the cardboard to simply "fan" the paper. As you fan the paper, it cruises forward. We found facing the edge that was folded and bent upwards towards us as we fanned was most effective. We also taped a start and finish line, too, with masking tape on the floor. I think they would have played this all day if that were allowed. I am so glad it was included in our reading this week!

We continued on in our Early American History studies focusing on the life and adventures of

The notebook pages were a bit better this time around.

And I cannot tell you enough how much we LOVED this book! It was our favorite read aloud, yet, this year! They really enjoyed hearing the perspective of those children who were close to their age and what it would have been like for them. We are really going to look forward to when we get to pull out this book this year!

and then we worked through Beautiful Feet Early American History
  Lessons 11-20

We enjoyed the notebooking together. There was a lot of improvement in just a short time. I notice better and better handwriting and coloring as they have begun to appreciate their notebooks. I am excited to see the books at the end of the year and how they compare to the beginning.

the children were instructed to create a map of Columbus' first voyage to the New World in their notebooks. In place of that we decided to create these maps using grocery bags.

These are FAR from perfect. Not much like the ones we had seen online. I am realizing it is more important to me that they can complete the activities themselves, than to have ones that look so "neat and perfect". I know they are learning more this way, and they also have a wonderful sense of accomplishment at what they made. themselves. with little help.

and hopefully they are learning that this learning stuff, it is supposed to be fun.

 We also made little ships recycling egg crates, instead of drawing some on the map. We made up some of our favorite playdough (adding some blue natural food coloring) and topped them with simple paper flags/labels with some craft sticks.

We also used the leftover scraps from the bags to create these fun "props". We used them to act out the story together. The hats were created from recycled bags and the simple spyglasses we created used both paper towel rolls and tissue paper rolls.

We also created a compass together using a peanut butter lid, a milk jug cap, a needle, a bar magnet and a compass to test it. You can find the tutorial for this activity HERE.

We created a fun "voyage-filled"
muffin tin lunch

five different boats with a little "water" made out of blue jello
boat one: half an apple with peanut butter with a pretzel and fruit leather sail
boat two: half a mini bell pepper with spinach and artichoke hummus with a zucchini sail
boat three: an orange wedge with a pretzel and cheese sail
boat four: a hard boiled egg with a cheese sail
boat five: a deviled egg with a bell pepper sail

yes, by all means, go ahead and play with your food, sweet girl

Also, Bible, Math and Handwriting continued along well the last two weeks and we also added spelling for Solenne. She has already caught on well and made huge leaps and bounds from the first lesson to the second. Next week, we will also add in Primary Lesson Languages and music, so I am hoping it will flow as nicely as this new add has. I love starting with a gradual flow of work and building on that as we are ready and more prepared. These girls are finding a sweet rhythm to their days and learning quality over quantity and I would have it no other way.

Come back soon to see more of our learning adventures.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Week One Wrap Up, Water Cycle and Vikings: Homeschooling 2014-2015 School Year

I am going to take a few minutes today to share our first week with my early elementary students.

and IT was FULL.

you can check out our classroom reveal HERE
and our curriculum  for 2014-2014 HERE
to give you a little more detail on where and what we are studying

Our first week was a bit less than I originally planned since most of us started the week sick. 
(And I did take a few less pictures than I originally planned.)
But that is pretty wonderful since when you home school you can alter it to be more restful and with a bit more snuggles and love. And I extended week one workload into the next, adding additional math and reading and that worked out so perfectly. 
 I may continue to spread out the base curriculum of MFW Adventures and Beautiful Feet early American History and take our time on some weeks, and not on others. I will share our journey through how that works and why we are choosing to go faster or slower at times along the way. 
I can promise you this blog will not share every little perfect moment, but will be an honest story of our learning.
very honest.
very real. 

so on to the sharing

 The weeks begin with our co-op Science Classes, Science Mondays, which we host here in our home. I am planning monthly units, most based off of the My Father's World Adventures in US History Curriculum suggestions. We will tackle quite a few basic science topics, so by the end of the year these children will have a good grasp on the sciences. I will share our basic overview and activities we completed at the end of each study with a few pictures, links and information on how to complete/create these unit studies on your own. We have decided Science will only be done on Mondays and the remaining subjects and studies will be done the following days of the week. The only other required work on Mondays are reading (Bible and Read-alouds) and household responsibilities, which were easily completed before science co-op began, so this frees up our afternoons on Monday for shopping and exploring.

One thing I really like about the My Father's World schedule is that this was easy to do. It leaves you room for adapting it to your family and rhythm. 

The Water Cycle 


  Week One:The Magic School Bus Wet All Over: A Book About the Water Cycle  
by Patricia Relf
Week Two:  A Drop Around the World by Barbara McKinney 
(While I read, the students were free to create water cycle bracelets)

You can find a great printout HERE to complete along with your bracelets.
yellow beads/bands to represent the sun and it's heat
silver/clear beads/bands to represent water vapor or evaporation
white beads/bands to represent the clouds or condensation
blue beads/bands to represent the rain or precipitation
green beads/bands to represent the land (plants and trees that use water)


rain sticks 

I created these simple "rain sticks" out of felt scraps, leftover twine and ribbons and a pack of craft dowels. I stitched up the felt clouds, stuffing them with a bit of batting and hot gluing them closed with the ribbon, twine and additional felt, showering down as "rain". I shoved the dowel up into the cloud before the hot glue completely dried. 
We loved using these with classical music to pretend we were rainstorms, having to freeze whenever the music stopped. No one wanted to stop playing this game.

 felt water cycle

I simply cut out some clouds, pieces for a river, a pond, a piece of blue to represent fog and several little rain drops.
(this was wonderful for a preschooler, too!)

 water cycle mobile

This was a pinterest find with no directions, but I easily figured it out and wanted to share how we created ours. We started with cut paper strips of blues and white and a sun, cut from yellow cardstock. We also gathered cotton balls, oil pastels, bakers twine and clothes pins.

Before we began we discussed what each part of the mobile represented. I labeled them here for you. We used the pastels to create rivers, rain drops, and evaporation. We glued on our cotton balls to represent clouds along the top of our water cycle. We hot glued all the pieces together to form a mobile. Lastly, we added our sun to the top with twine.  This was one of the favorite activities for this unit study!

and we also created
a paper plate water cycle, which we used for our mini muffin tin lunch. You can find many interpretations of this all over the web. Ours were very simple and basic. These were more used for teaching and quizzing in our case.


 creating a rainstorm

I really enjoyed creating these with my littles. The shaving cream is soft and pillow-y looking like real clouds and the blue food coloring really did "rain" down through it!

creating a cloud

This might have been EVERYONE'S favorite experiment! You will need a glass jar, a lid, hot water, ice cubes, and matches. You will fill the jar about half full with very hot water and then cover with the lid. You will then fill the lid with as many ice as you can. Leave this for a couple of minutes. Grab a piece of dark cardstock or construction paper and place it behind your jar. This will help you see the cloud more fully. Next light a match and throw it in your jar and quickly close the lid. Wait about a minute or so and lift the lid to watch your cloud appear! This was something we did a few times! It was still fun to watch each time.

a closed Terrarium

 The cool thing about a closed Terrarium is that the water cycle happens inside the glass, meaning that you don’t have to water it. Once it’s made, it’s very low maintenance and you just get to enjoy it. We created these with small cactus plants that a local garden center donated to us for our project.

Supplies Needed:
  • A lidded glass container. Anything with an air tight seal will work. I choose a quart sized canning jar.
  • Small Rocks. We choose some from around our home.
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Soil. I sent one of my older children out to the garden to gather some for this project.
  • Small Plants- succulents are best. We used a cactus plant. This was donated by a local greenery for our experiment.
I was very happy that most of this stuck within our guidelines of trying to use mostly what we have one hand for our schooling this year.
Assembly Instructions:
First we layered in some of the dirt, adding in the plant and additional dirt to cover the plant well.
Next, we added in some of the small rocks we found around the house.
We added in just a little of the activated charcoal to help our terrarium avoid mold growth.
Lastly, we added a tiny bit of water, and closed the top.
 If your plants start to droop and look dried out, open the jar and spray them with a small amount of water. Ideally, unlike our first attempt, when you close the jar that first time you will have added the right amount of water. This took a few tries for us to get it right. That did not change our excitement, though, when it finally worked!

We were able to see drops of condensation forming on the glass, and then getting heavy, and “raining” down on our plant.
It was fun to explain how the plant soaks up the water in its roots, then “breathes” with respiration, releasing the water (and oxygen) into the air, which then condenses on the glass and rains.

We created a full water cycle in one closed jar. 
and that was VERY exciting.


 water cycle cups
(using canning jars we already had is both cost effective and cute)

this is simply blue jello and whipped cream

snowing cloud cookies

a cloud shaped sugar cookie frosted and a light dusting of powered sugar "snow"

and a water cycle muffin tin lunch we had after class

 we used our spinners we made in co-op class to "spin for lunch"

accumulation: plain greek yogurt with blue sprinkles
evaporation: cottage cheese
condensation: mini marshmallows
precipitation: blueberries and shredded cheese
the sun: a clementine

extras you may enjoy

or create a
this topic will come up in Week 10 and 11 of MFW and we will continue more learning in those weeks, as well.

We begin our day with Bible time

For this subject we are enjoying the verses and studies in Beautiful Feet, including the subjects of Being Made For A Unique Purpose, Self-Control, Christian Virtue and Moral Sense.

We went over a lot of the Bible basics, such as the Old and New Testaments, books of the Bible and how to find different books, chapters and verses.
We are also combining both My Father's World's basics on the the Names of God 
and the book by Sally Michael called "God's Names"
in our Bible time. 

This is giving us a much fuller Bible time and we all really enjoy this time of school.

It also including me writing each of these girls a special letter to them about their names, why we chose them, and how much you care about them. I hope they treasure these for a long time. It was a real blessing to have this in the MFW curriculum to do.

next for our History/Geography overview

We completed Week One in MFW Adventures in US History
and most of the first 10 lessons in Beautiful Feet Early American History 

We have started off really loving combining My Beautiful Feet with My Father's World and I know we will learn so much about American History through both literature and hands-on activities.  I am absolutely in love with the readings and activities in both curriculum and I am so glad we are using them side by side, but in all honesty, you ONLY need one or the other. I personally like to take our time, really explore each subject as much as possible and by doing both I feel we are learning and enjoying so much more. 

The highlights in MFW this week included

learning the Pledge of Allegiance

and briefly discussing the US and World maps.

 we had a patriotic snack, thanks to a resourceful older child who found  a mix of ingredients in our pantry to create this tie dyed cake

It also included beginning The Story of U.S. book and notebooking Leif Ericsson, which was wonderful. And honestly I can see we have a LONG way to go.

Beautiful Feet has some of the best literature I have ever seen in curriculum and we are devouring it up as fast as we can. It is painful for us to stop reading each day as we cannot wait to continue on with the wonderfully written "Leif the Lucky" by Ingri and Edgar d'Aulaire.

and the girls have so enjoyed working in their composition notebooks. I admit I was worried over this when we began and whether they would enjoy the coloring and copywork, but they have really enjoyed it.

I am glad we are combining bits of Beautiful Feet with My Father's World.

This Viking Ship craft really made the lessons come to life for us, as we acted them out together. The best part is since we used a quart carton, the boats really float. This was really hard for me, as I wanted to "take over" several times in the creating, which honestly was a bit more time involved than I originally thought when we started, but I am glad I did not step in more. By letting them create them it gifted them the joy and satisfaction of a job well done, which is far more important than a a "job done perfectly" or a "job done by mom". Perfect no, but honestly have not seen cuter viking ships before. 

(before we added the shields)

(and after)

I am thankful for recycled items all coming together for this sweet project! I had to smile when my third grader said how she had never made anything this special before! That made all the time and effort  and improvising worth it. Oh, and the extra cups of coffee I drank that day to use up that half and half for the carton. *wink*

If you want to make one of these little recycled viking ships yourself, here are some basic directions.

You will need:

  • One quart container for two ships. I used a half and half container.
  • ruler, pen
  • Masking Tape
  • Paint, we had to make brown out of red, yellow and blue paints, since we did not have brown, but wanted that color. You can mix that, too, by adding 3 parts red, one part yellow and one quarter part blue.
  • 5 skewers
  • one dowel, cut in half
  • fabric scraps or paper for the sail
  • paper, brown and plain white printer
  • watercolors (optional)
  • string or twine of any kind, if desired 

The first thing you will need to do is cut your quart container in half lengthwise. Next, you will cover the sides of your container with masking tape. This will make it easier to paint.

You will use your brown paper to cut both a dragon head and tail for each boat. You will need two of each for each boat. You will attach these to your container with masking tape.
Now you will be ready to paint your ships. We choose brown, but you can use any colors, or even just leave the tan masking tape and use tan heads and tails. 

While the containers were drying we took that time to use watercolors and paint circles we cut out of white paper for the shields. 

We created oars out of skewers, and added them to the ships through punched holes, added little punched out ovals to the ends. We alternated the oar holes with the shields that all painted and dried.

Lastly, a sail was added. Ours was created with scrap fabric, dowels cut in half and rigged with twine. We kept it simple, but you could elaborate on this idea and make a working sail, if you wished to. 

also,  we watched Veggie Tales Lyle the Kindly Viking and How to Train Your Dragon, just for fun to finish off our studies


Math was a lot of fun, but I will not lie, I am really excited for when we have our math station up in a few months. I really needed more time and finances to complete that area of our school room. We are truly taking this slow and steady and that will be a blessing when we take a jump to Math U See mid year. I am treating this season of math as a "warm up" and a booster of confidence and it seems to be starting just as I was hoping.


We are starting handwriting with chalkboards and chalk for practice and tactile fun,
then we move into our workbooks. The girls are going to practice both printing more clearly and moving onto cursive writing, which will be a wonderful gift to them in a time when that is becoming a dying art. 

 In the next couple of weeks we will start adding in our English, Primary Lesson Languages and Spelling By Sound and Structure for Solenne. One thing I have learned over the years is that it is far too easy to get burned out quickly, so starting slow and steady helps prevent this in the long run.

Now on to Columbus... make sure you come back next week to see how we are adventuring!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Our Homeschool Room

Today I want to share with you a little bit about our homeschool room and how it came together perfectly with a small budget and a lot of creativity. I will add that we are truly blessed with amazing friends that made this a reality with all of the love, support, encouragement and helping hands we received to pull this off, just in time for learning. 

This room truly is a dream come true for us.

We dreamed of a space for learning for years. For years.
but it never seemed to come
and there was always something else on the list, 
but today.
today the time has come and we are sharing our favorite "new" space in our home.

chalkboard love

To bring focus to the largest school space in this room we decided to paint the whole wall with chalkboard paint, with the help of many hands this turned out perfectly! I love the contrast it adds to the whites and greys in this room. It really makes the map pop off the wall and stand out and brings attention to the sweet little desks and so far we have enjoyed creating little doodles on it. I am sure it will become more functional as the weeks go on. Also layered on this wall is a sweet green chalkboard that dear friends were looking to pass on. I could not wait to add it to the wall to bring a little color and texture to this space!

old desk love

These desks were found on Craigslist for a very sweet price. They are old, beat up, and imperfect. Not unlike some of us... rough around the edges and in need of lots of grace. I think they are a perfect fit for my early elementary students and will get us through a few years, just in time to pass them down to the next crew. I love that they have a space under each seat for their personal books and little treasures.

piano to play, map to dream

This piano is a treasure gift from my dear grandmother and many hands have pranced along the keys over the years and I smile each time I think about how it landed perfectly in this room, being one of the focus items in this dream space of ours. A gift of the heart that reminds us daily of how much we are loved. Over the piano we added a vintage map that we found on Craigslist. This really brings the perfect 1950s vintage feel to our room that I was dreaming about. It really was my heart's desire when I was orginally dreaming of a schoolroom and I feel so blessed by how it came to us.

do it yourself project

I am really pleased with this adapted Child's Art Station from Lowe's that we originally found on Pinterest. We were so blessed that our oldest child put this whole project together, even reformatting the directions, to make it a perfect fit for our art corner. Also, a dear friend with some amazing sewing talents created these little aprons for my artists!

school cart

This Ikea Raskog cart is always wheeling around this room (and our whole home), it has all of our basic supplies in basic canning jars we already owned and the other sections are now filled with teacher manuals and read-alouds for our year. This is a very sturdy, easy to move around, cart that I really enjoy having in our classroom. I would feel lost without it, and we have just begun our school year.

printer cart

(our family printer just died after many faithful years so I will hold this for now, but it will be edited in once we can replace our printer. We are feeling a bit lost without it, so I hope we can replace it soon)

paper to go/cart of supplies

For years we have had "piles". You know those piles of supplies that grow and grow, but never really have a proper home. It was making everything we did take so much longer and often I would buy something for a lesson or project that we already owned. I am challenging myself to use supplies we already own this year and buy very little and that will make for a very creative school year. One of these 10 drawer storage carts has all of our paper, from printer paper, to notebooks, to cardstock and one of the carts has everything from art supplies to math manipulatives and it is working out so well for our daily needs. 

stations of accountability

 Whether you are new to homeschooling or a seasoned veteran, you know that organization is the key to success. But how do you organize school responsibilities AND home-life responsibilities? We have combined our popular responsibility station with a homeschool organization station to bring you the best of both worlds. You will receive the 16"x16" metal pegboard (hooks and hardware included), notepad (good for one calendar year) that is divided into school assignments and home responsibilities, a school supply bucket, a chore chooser bucket, set of 20 chore sticks (blank on one end for you to fill out age-appropriate chores and marked with "thank you" on the opposite end), one set of three money bags, and downloadable Parent's Guide.

cost: $65.00 each

not included are the clipboards, school supplies such as the pencils

I cannot recommend this system enough. It lays everything out. It gives your child a chance to grow into a responsible member of your household without continued pressure and prodding and it gives them a chance to earn, spend and save money wisely. I am very thankful for this part of our room.

So, that is our space. 
the honesty is that it is not perfect and there are so many things that were different in my mind when I was dreaming of a school space for us, but in the end, this is just right. It was both affordable and full of lots of little things that are both pretty to look at and functional, as well.

This room truly is a less is more feel. It is small room, but we have used as many walls and spaces as we could, while still focused on also keeping it fairly clutter free and overall "unbusy" for a less cluttered mind. It was important to me that we were less distracted by color and "loud" items in our room and could more clearly focus on our work and exploration. This room also houses my studio, which is also as simplistic as possible. That is coming up in a post soon, so make sure you return to see how and where I create. I am still working on a couple of projects and saving for the last few things.

I also want to share that we do not keep much from year to year, unless I know it will be difficult to replace or we will use it right away the next year or the year after. We just not have the space to store much and we often use the funds from selling those items we have finished with to purchase the  next year's curriculum, books and basics. I will share our closet in a few weeks, to give a better idea on what we keep and what we do not and how we store what we do keep. Stay tuned for that.

coming soon

Our Math and Science Exploration Station

(we are still saving for this)

 A Decorated Mantle

(we are still unsure how this is coming together)

Make sure you come back often to see how we are putting this room to good use!

Lastly, if you love the girl's little shirts and skirts as much as I do, here is a little look at where they came from because I really adore The Measure.