Yesterday and Today, In Pictures

Boy, if these photos don’t show what our homeschool is like, I don’t know what does.

Yesterday, we went hiking at Red Rock Dells, a park about 20 minutes from us.



It was so much fun.  It was nature study, history, science, PE and more.  And it’s just beautiful and good for the soul.



Today, Daryl took Toria and Alex and some homeschooling friends two hours away to take part in a movie shoot.

As extras.  In a zombie movie.  🙂


Isn’t my boy darling?!

This is the movie they’re shooting.

Daryl just called to check in.  They didn’t wrap up shooting until after seven so they’ll be back late.  They’re excited about going back tomorrow and Saturday, even though it involves an awful lot of sitting around (they’re bringing iPod chargers and more books tomorrow!).

They’re learning lots about the movie business and I have no idea what else (can I somehow make this count for social studies?), but what an experience!

And in contrast, this is what Jack and I were doing while they were filming….


He stayed home and helped me with Fiona (no zombies under five allowed).  He’s not sure if he wants to have anything to do with this zombie business, though he’s signed up so he can take part if he chooses to.

And we had a pretty fun time on our own.

It’s an odd life, but a fun one!  🙂

10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to….

1.  Making deviled egg sailboats.

2. Continuing to read our Revolutionary War diary.

3.  Having guitar lessons with Daddy (for Victoria and Anna).

4.  Doing art.

by Victoria:

by Jack:

5.  Creating games and busywork.

6.  Running businesses.

I love how Jack creates his own spelling and handwriting practice in his bead selling shop.  🙂

Victoria has started a nail painting business.  She works for free and does awesome designs.

7.  Learning French.  Victoria has been playing Kirby’s Adventure, a Nintendo game in French.  She says she’s picking up French vocabulary from it.

8.  Learning square roots for fun.  Anna has been memorizing square roots.

9.  Went to the YMCA for exercise.  We played basketball games, had races and generally goofed around.

10.  Lastly, I don’t think I ever posted pictures from Anna’s belated birthday party.  Here’s a bit of what we did there!

10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

We’re getting back in the swing of homeschooling around here.  Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to…

1. We’re reading book two (Utah) of the “Wright on Time” homeschool series.  (Geography, social studies, reading)

2.  We’ve been sledding, taking walks and playing in the snow.  (PE)

3.  The girls have been taking photographs like crazy.  They’ve taken some beautiful pictures and I’ll share some once we get them online.  I subscribed to an inexpensive photography magazine to support their new hobby.  (Art)

4.  Anna spent the day at her friend Addie’s house today.  Christmas vacation is fun because you can hang out with your public school friends during the day again.  🙂 (Socialization!)

5.  We played Blackjack.  Alex is a fan.  😉  (Math)

6. Victoria finished reading “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.”  (Reading, literature, history)

7.  We made up some matching cards for Alex, using index cards and pictures cut from magazines.  We’ve been making matching games to play with him, such as concentration.  He also likes to say the names of the objects since some of them are new words for him.  Each set of cards has two pictures of a type of thing (like dogs, eyes, balls and cars) but the pictures themselves are different.  (Vocabulary, memory, fun, art)

8.  Daryl has been cooking with the kids, as usual.  Some of the latest goodies– sunny day cheese biscuits and Scotch pancakes.  They’ve had to do some math to convert Scotch pancakes from the original recipe (in weight and different measurements) and we also learned about the differences between English, Scotch and American pancakes plus the reasons some countries did not have yeast breads.  (Home ec, math, social studies)

9.  Anna has a new subscription to New Moon Girls magazine and online community and she’s been writing short stories, leaving messages, making new online friends, drawing logos and artwork to submit, and reading through other girls’ submissions.  (Reading, creative writing, socialization, art)

10.  Jack, Anna and Victoria have been reading for pleasure.  They’ve read everything from Psychology Today to Us Magazine to Paddington Bear to The Magic Schoolbus to Harry Potter to an entire set of E.B. White books this week.  Daryl and I have been reading to Alex.  (Reading, social studies, science)

They’ve done lots of other fun stuff– tons of art and drawings, building elaborate creations with bristle blocks, making up songs, writing plays, calling friends, playing online, having snowball fights, asking questions, making playdough… and lots of fighting, complaining, bemoaning, bewailing, bickering and being crazy-making at times too, lest things sound too ideal!

It’s been a nice few days.  I’m hoping to do some really fun HS stuff this week too.  We might as well take advantage of this cold and do some fun homebody things!

Just a Little Snow

I took the boys for a walk today and pulled Alex in the sled.  It was bitterly cold but bright and sparkling white everywhere.  Jack had quite an adventure even navigating our front yard!

Here’s Jack giving Alex a hand to pull him into our yard.  🙂

I got quite a workout pulling Alex and sometimes Jack too.  Poor Alex’s face was bright red by the time we were done and he still kept saying, “No, more walk!  More walk!”.   He loves to go on walks (or rides!).

I’ve also been enjoying watching the birds at the feeder.  My computer desk is by a window looking down at them and I love watching the bossy blue jays chase away all the little sparrows and then watching them all flock back again.  It may be cold, but it’s still so pretty.

I am still not a fan of winter, but I have to admit it can be a tiny bit magical.  🙂

10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to in between illnesses, arguments, emergency room visits and general craziness.  🙂  This will be a very camping-intensive entry!

  1. Home-Ec: We made homemade ice cream with all different recipes and inclusions.  We used whole milk, whipping cream and half and half to compare the differences in fat contents.  We used egg recipes and eggless.  One of our favorite recipes was one we dreamed up using our frozen strawberries from strawberry picking.  We microwaved a bunch of them and used the resulting strawberry juice, mashed strawberries and whole milk, vanilla and sugar.  It tasted somewhat like sherbert and was much lower in fat and calories but one of the tastiest recipes. 
  2. Nature Studies: Jack caught a cute little frog and hung out with him for a while. 
  3. Math: Shopped for polished rocks for 3 for $1 for souveniers and other goodies.  We figured out what exact change we’d need to get a big jug of honey ($5) and honey blackberry jam ($4) to leave in the drop box on the way home from camping.  Can I just add that you should travel to this intersection near Marshall, MN, just to get yourself some of this local honey and jam? 
  4. Science: The dad from this neat homeschooling family taught Jack how to crack a whip and to know how fast it was going (742 mph I think!  I should look it up or ask the kids before posting it!) since it was fast enough to break the sound barrier!  He also showed the kids how he could snap the whip around them and it wouldn’t hurt at all, since only the very tip stings.  Talk about a leap of faith! 
  5. Physical Education: The kids hiked up and down the big hill by our campsite with friends.  They also threw with atlatls and helped teach others how to do it.   
  6. Survival Skills: We had a bear of a time getting a fire started since the air was so humid and the wood (which they provide for free, along with the free camping for this event) was still wet.  While we usually have good luck with the tipi method of fire starting, the log cabin design worked better this time.  The kids gathered dry bits of pine branches for kindling and we used that with scrap paper and lots of blowing to slowly build two wonderful fires (one Friday night and one Saturday morning).   I’m glad the kids are learning to build fires when they’re young.  I was grown before I ever learned how!
  7. Art: We supported the arts by commissioning our very own crayon caricature of the four kids at the world’s best price ($5 per person!) and got to watch him work.  We love it!
  8. History: We talked to these ladies who were spinning wool from their own sheep and learned what materials were used to dye all the types of yarn (they were all natural, some made with bark and other interesting materials).  We also watched these folks get into an argument and a shoot out right before the corn boil started.  Those gunfighters squabble over the smallest things!  It ended with one poor chap on the grass with his distraught lady friend wailing next to him.  Later on, Annie Oakley and her husband were set to appear and do some pretty neat things with rifles but we packed up and left before she showed up (we care more about approaching thunderstorms than Annie Oakley, I’m afraid).
  9. Strategy & sportsmanship: We played Swap in the shelter, which was partly great fun and partly crazy-making (Alex tried to climb on tables, Jack quit in a huff when he was nearly out and someone got to swap cards with him…) but it was mostly fun! 
  10. Fun! We saw old friends and made new ones, had treats, listened to music, played ball and blinking badminton, read magazines, roasted marshmallows and enjoyed beautiful scenery once again. 

Ten Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

I’m still playing catch-up here, especially with Victoria STILL sick and Jack and Alex both sick with some sort of flu that caused pretty high fevers the past couple of days.  Everybody but Anna is on forced rest, like it or not.  🙂

Here’s a bit of what we were up to before the boys got sick…

1.  Badminton! Daryl picked up some rackets at a garage sale and made a net out of an old hammock.  We’ve been playing every single day and loving it!  At first we were all pretty pitiful but we’ve all improved greatly and love seeing how many volleys we can get back and forth in a row.   It’s quite a workout!

2.  Tracked some money. Daryl got this dollar in change and he and the kids looked it up online to see where it was from and where it had been.

3.  Greek myths. I’ve been reading the kids Greek myths from a favorite book at bedtime.  Along the way, we’ve been talking about other subjects that sneak in (like word origins, history, similarities with some stories and bible stories, etc.).

4.  Daily walks. Alex dearly loves to go on walks and stroller rides, and with the weather nice there’s just no excuse not to go at least once a day.  Along the way we splash in puddles, collect egg shells, watch bugs, gather cool rocks, you name it.  I try to take just one child with me besides Alex, so we can talk while Alex rolls or explores.  It’s nice one-on-one time, and I even sneak in math problems until I get too many complaints.  😉

5.  Painting the set. Daryl took Jack and Anna with him to scrape and paint part of the set of the Wilder Pageant.  They did a great job!

6.  Drawing on the walls! Yes, with permission.  🙂  We have a bare white wall on the side of our staircase and it’s badly in need of a good scrubbing and a new coat of paint.  I had a few educational tidbits and children’s art stuck up there but I pulled them down and decided that we ought to jazz it up.  If we’re going to paint it or clean it anyway, why not let the kids have some fun and dress it up in the meantime?  So I traced squares for each of the older kids and gave them a pail of washable markers and instructions to do whatever they wanted in their squares.  They loved it!

Anna decided hers should be graffiti and gave herself a graffiti name (Fang!).  She also talked smack talk about herself and her sister in her square (later revised to be nicer, then changed again when Victoria annoyed her later).  That child!  Victoria was not impressed!  🙂

7.  Went to the mall! Okay, now this may not seem like a big deal to people in the real world, but this was a very big deal to my sheltered gang!  🙂  They actually said things like “We’re going to go to a REAL mall?!” and “Wow…..”.  Yes, they have taken part in archeological digs, met celebrities, been on TV and been on a lobster boat, but they were over the moon at the prospect of going to the mall.

(Worst picture of Alex ever!)

8.  Searched for worms and bugs. I had the kids looking for worms for the compost ball and showed Alex how to flip over rocks to find cool bugs.  He loved digging for worms and creepy crawlies and seeing what kind of creatures he could find!

9.  Reading, reading, reading. The big kids are reading to the little kids, the big kids are reading on their own and I’m reading to everybody.   They were planning on keeping track for the library summer reading program but it was too much trouble keeping track of them all and they really don’t need plastic toys and prizes to want to read so I’m actually a bit glad the forms ended up in the trash.  Jack is impatiently waiting for me to come down and read to him now, as a matter of fact.  Mama takes too long blogging!

10. Free play! What is summer without swinging like a monkey, making messes in the mud, stopping at the lake, playing in the sandbox, swinging, sliding, swimming, building,  playing in the rain, running through the yard after dark, searching for fireflies, picking flowers and lazing around in the sun?  And the kids have been busy too!  😉

5 Fun Ways to Learn Today

It’s not usually hard to find fun ways to homeschool in the summer time, but here’s a few ideas I had for spicing things up around here.

1.  Have a trivia obstacle course.  Set up an assortment of balance beams, hula hoops, kiddie pools and other props in some sort of fun way and get a stack of question cards from any educational game you happen to have (Kids’ Trivial Pursuit, Brainquest Cards, flash cards, that geography game you always meant to play…) or just make up some on your own.  Now challenge the kids to run the course, stopping at each station to answer a question before being able to move on.  Give one child a stop watch and the job of recording times.  Each child gets to run the course three times (with new questions each time) and keep his/her best score.

2.  Give the kids colored chalk and ask them to decoratively cover the driveway with math facts.  🙂

3.  Play FBI Most Wanted with garden bugs.  Give the kids a bug ID book and a bug box, net or jar.  Tell them they’re agents who have to rid the garden of evil.  Their assignment (should they accept it) is to find bugs, look them up and ascertain if they are on the side of good or evil in the garden.  Bad bugs should be captured and sent to prison (a location away from beloved garden plants).  Have them make up ID cards with pictures and descriptions of any criminals they catch.

4.  Spray math.  Put kids in bathing suits.  Turn on the hose.  Ask rapid fire math questions.  They have to answer in under 3 seconds.  Wrong answers or missed answers get sprayed!  Make sure you play this on a really hot day when it’s not so bad to get sprayed!

5.  Give the kids an outdoor thermometer and have them see how wide of a range of change in termperature they can find outside.  Help them hypothesize about the difference between full shade and the sunniest spot, and guess the temperature to begin with.  Place bets about what the temperature will be at 6 o’clock and at sunset.  If you’re up for a little flashlight science, have them perform the same tests after dark.  Is there still a difference in warmth in places that were in the sun all day?  If so, is it as much?  Is it warmer right in front of the flashlight?  Then head inside and see if it’s warmer or cooler in bed.  🙂