A Few Pics of "Our" Museum

I’m working on getting pics of our museum and log cabin, but in the meantime I snitched this from a list of 10 ways we played and learned last summer.  Here’s Daryl and the kids helping out at the museum last year, along with what I wrote at the time…

We had our town’s Fun Days last weekend and Daryl taught folks about old fashioned instruments like the dulcimer and the history behind them (which is actually pretty interesting!).  We toured the museum (which is the railroad depot that the town was built around 100 years ago) but it’s a no-touching kind of museum so we toured it quickly!  Anna wore her pageant costume and helped out, while Alex stomped in puddles off to the side.  Jack mostly drove me crazy.

More pics (especially of the cabin and the flowers and gardens in progress) to come!

"Our" Museum and Log Cabin

Okay, I have to admit that Daryl’s volunteerism has led to some pretty cool opportunities.  This is definitely one of them.

Last year, Daryl joined our little town’s historic society and was nominated as Vice President.  This year, he was automatically bumped up to president.  When he asked who wanted to take charge of the city museum and log cabin, there were no takers.  Some members had been shouldering more than their share for years, so he took it on.

This past month, he has been busy with the kids doing things to prepare for the grand opening today.  They swept the log cabin, arranged displays, cleaned up unfortunate bats and birds who’d met untimely ends, went through donations and so on.

Along the way, they’ve learned a ton of history about our town, railroads, pioneer life and more.  And helped our community.  And had fun.

And best of all, we now sort of have free run of our own little historic museum and log cabin.

The site is only open for two hours on Sunday afternoons.  It’s been that way for years and Daryl is hoping to expand that.  Victoria may take a shift to open another day and time.

I suggested seeing if the high school would donate their leftover greenhouse plants to the site to plant around the cabin as a historic garden.  Daryl checked with the principal and superintendent (they’re also on the committee) and they said sure.  Today, Daryl and Anna stopped by and picked up flats of marigolds, snapdragons, tomatoes and more.  We planted until we were too tired to do more.

On our way off the site, we turned off the lights to the museum and looked around one last time.  Victoria was taking pictures of artifacts.  Daryl showed me the sled from the giant old waterpark that was on one of our local lakes decades ago, until the owners shut it down rather than involve the government and pay taxes (not that it would have passed safety inspections either, by the looks of it!).

I love that my boys climb into the rafters of the log cabin for fun.  I love that my girls are taking on their on garden responsibilities to beautiful the spot and add a little more authenticity.  I love that Jack knows railroad history and hobo culture.  I love that Alex runs barefoot through the clover around the cabin and climbs on historic farm equipment.  I love walking through antiques and memories from a hundred years with my children before turning out the lights and locking the doors.

We have lots of plans for activities to draw more visitors and add more interest.  It’s a fun project and I’m very glad Daryl took it on.


It's Turns Out I'm a Montessori Homeschooler

A while ago, a friend asked me if I knew anything about homeschooling older kids with the Montessori method. I had no clue but I promised I’d look into it for her.

I still had it on the back burner (being 5 months pregnant with 4 kids, too many gardens and an affinity for the internet and junky TV will send a whole lot of things there) when I happened upon a blog post where a mother was talking about how she homeschooled her middle schooler.

Even though her daughter had been educated in a Montessori school and loved it, they abandoned that when it came to the middle school years because the mother said Maria Montessori believed kids of that age should mainly be doing “farmwork.”


She followed that up with a quote from Montessori expert Michael Olaf that immediately had me thinking that I was a fan of Montessori for middle schoolers and got me off on a new rabbit trail.

“The Montessori program for the young adult from age twelve to fifteen is very different from that of traditional school. Dr. Montessori felt that because of the rapid growth, the increased need for sleep, and hormonal changes, it is useless to try to force the adolescent to concentrate on intellectual work. She recommended an Erdkinder, or Earth school, where children would live close to nature, eat fresh farm products, and carry on practical work related to the economics of supplying food, shelter, transportation, and so forth. Intellectual work is still done, following the child’s interests, but without pressure.”

Okay, let me get this straight…

Kids are supposed to spend time in nature.

Kids are supposed to follow their own interests academically.

Kids are supposed to be taught important life skills like gardening, baking and building.

Kids are supposed to be allowed to follow their own natural needs and rhythms.

Kids are supposed to eat healthy, whole, locally grown foods.

What part of this is a bad thing? 🙂

This is pretty much exactly my line of thinking for how I’ve been homeschooling my kids but especially my older girls (11 and 13, ending 5th and 7th grade).

For example…

  • The kids all help me in the garden and have their own plants they get to buy and tend.
  • Cooking and baking are very important skills that each child gets to learn.  Jack was thrilled to learn how to cook rice in the rice cooker recently and keeps asking when his next cooking class will be.  Anna cooks dishes like fried eggs and tomato soup.  Victoria is now in charge of daily bread making in the bread machine.  Daryl and I try to involve the kids with cooking and baking as much as possible.
  • Anna mended a pillow from my bed that she noticed was ripped today.  She jumps on any opportunity to sew or mend things around the house.
  • Victoria helped Daryl build me two raised garden beds.  She got to saw, drill and help figure out the amount of lumber needed and how to figure out its final area for filling with dirt and compost.
  • Nature is a huge part of our homeschooling.  The kids do a lot of hiking, exploring, bird watching, tracking, tree climbing, rock hunting and so forth.
  • We talk a lot about life skills, budgeting, homemaking, nutrition and other parts of life that we think are important.
  • Daryl involves the kids in using power tools, doing repairs and such.
  • The kids are given more and more responsibilities as they age.  Victoria is in charge of a lot of our laundry, for instance, and Jack is in charge of taking care of many of the cats’ needs.
  • Our home environment is still filled with enriching things that help foster learning.  The living areas are strewn with the Brock magiscope and various slides, math gadgets, educational games, books, tools, science gadgets, notebooks and so on.
  • Interest-led learning still plays a huge part in the kids’ education.  They take part in science conferences, script frenzy, nature programs, community theater, volunteer activities, homeschool events, and so forth.  They read National Geographic, follow literature blogs, play math games… and on and on.
  • I’ve repeatedly stressed to the kids that I want them to be prepared for life by knowing how to live well on very little money.  We talk about how to find dirt cheap good housing, how to grow and preserve food, how to make meals from scratch, how to avoid big spending traps and so forth.  This knowledge will serve them no matter how much money they make, and help give them real freedom in life.

Here’s the article I ended up writing about how to use Montessori principles for middle school years.  I’m planning on following up with several more on the topic, too.

Far from seeing all of this as “farmwork,” I see all this as a really natural way to teach during the middle school years — and a really practical way.

Far too often, even middle school years are spent almost exclusively getting children ready for college.  A Montessori education prepares children for life.

College-bound teens can still devote time to subjects they’ll need for college.  But for middle-schoolers, is a life spent engaged in nature, life skills and interest-led learning really such a bad thing?

You know my vote.  😉



The American Frugal Housewife

Well here’s a fun and interesting “little” freebie. The American Frugal Housewife was offered by the Homeschool Freebie of the Day and still seems to be available.  Download the PDF file and take a look at this 109 page manual that teaches homemaking, cooking, how to raise daughters (now there’s some talk-generating reading!), lectures about frugality and more.

Think of it as one part history, one part home ec.

I’m interested in checking out some of the recipes for cheap custards, pies, etc.  I think I’ll do without the calf’s foot jelly though…


Life Here in 10 Words and 10 Pictures

We’ve been so busy! Here’s 10 words and phrases to describe life here lately:

  1. Gardens
  2. Old friends
  3. Test prep
  4. Hiking
  5. Math discoveries
  6. Cleaning
  7. Photography
  8. Laughter
  9. Playing outside
  10. Reading

And 10 pics…

And a few links…

Sometime soon I have to post about Art Day at the Petroglyphs, the swan release, fried marbles and so much more.  Hope you’re having fun with your kiddos!  Back soon….

Bones, Free Classes and Ant Midwives

Sorry for being quiet for so long!  Life has been busy here and I’m slowly getting my energy back in the 5th month and am anxious to catch up on everything that fell by the wayside while I was so sick.  We’re also super busy with garden planting and other spring activities.

Here’s a few nifty homeschool things that have caught my eye lately online………

Bones of the Skeleton flashcards

These just seemed like fun, especially for kids with anatomy interests!  I haven’t poked around the site, but it looks like there are all sorts of flashcards already made and ones you can make yourself too.

Free online classes

Here’s a list of sites that offer free courses online.  I haven’t checked them out (other than a couple that I knew about like Khan Academy) but it looked interesting.

Up close footage of an ant being born

This is pretty amazing footage!  Wow!  I love the teamwork in getting the little guy out.  🙂

We have done so much cool stuff lately that I want to post pictures of and yap about.  I’ll be back soon!

In the meantime, here’s a bit of the yapping I’ve been doing online…

Oh yes, and I ordered our tests for Jack, Anna and Victoria, along with 160-page practice workbooks.  That should be fun!  😉



A Few Good Reads

There’s some news stories and web pages that have caught my interest lately. Here’s a few of them…

Who Stole Homeschooling? This article talks about the history of the homeschooling movement in the US and how some groups have claimed ownership, made exclusionary rules and changed the spirit of the movement over the years.  I think it has an important message about our need to be there for new homeschoolers, to support each other and to speak for ourselves when organizations attempt to take our voice.

There are still good groups, good folks, good leaders and great support available outside of these heirarchical, exclusive groups, but they aren't always easy to find. Folks have to do their own homework and seek them out. I'm reluctantly coming to the conclusion that those who homeschool strictly for the love of children are probably never going to be as organized, as visible, or as powerful as those who homeschool for religious or political reasons...

Those of us who are inclined to be inclusive, relationship oriented, and concerned primarily for our homeschooled children will be less frustrated if we understand that regardless what has happened to the homeschooling movement itself, there are, in fact, still homeschoolers who are ready and willing to offer their support and encouragement without strings or agendas to families outside of the machinery and averse to it, who are still and only homeschooling for the love of their children. Just as we did in years past, we can continue to speak up every chance we get. We can let folks know we're out here, we can let them know which organizations do and do not speak for us, we can dispute questionable research and openly, publicly, reject the publicly-made statements of people when they do not really represent us.

Quake shifted Japan; towns now flood at high tide

I had no idea that Japan’s earthquake shifted the entire country so that it’s been literally pulled out and under the sea more than it was.  Coastal towns now flood twice a day, and the changes are permanent.

Twice a day, the flow steadily increases until it is knee-deep, carrying fish and debris by her front door and trapping people in their homes. Those still on the streets slosh through the sea water in rubber boots or on bicycle…

As surrounding areas clear rubble and make plans to rebuild, residents in this section of Ishinomaki are stuck in limbo — their homes are mostly undamaged and ineligible for major insurance claims or government compensation, but twice a day the tide swamps their streets…

“Everyone here still has housing loans they have to pay, and you can’t give away this land, let alone sell it,” says Seietsu Sasaki, 57, who also has to pay off loans on two cars ruined in the flooding…

The article goes into the science behind the shift and also offers the dire news that summer rains will begin next month and in the autumn, tides will be higher.

10 Educational History Podcasts To Subscribe & Listen To

These all sound great.  I guess podcasts are in our future.  🙂

And a few of my latest yappings…

On the homeschooling front:

On the green front…

Tomorrow we have homeschool day at the Petroglyphs.  It’s art day, and the kids will get to make glorious messes with all sorts of art supplies.  I’m sure it will be a fun day!